Segregation in Queensland

Stephen Andrew statement on Segregation in Queensland

Those who believe that the “segregation” of legally designated outgroups in Australia, could NEVER happen, clearly know nothing of history. Because it already has – on a number of occasions in fact. Australian South Sea Islanders were subjected to great suffering, hardship and adversity for most of the twentieth century, due to discriminatory laws passed on the State and Federal level.
The laws relegated them to ‘second class’ status and legally prevented them from enjoying any of the same rights and freedoms as other Australians. In 1902, they became the only victims of a mass deportation order in Australia’s history. Between 1904 and 1909, almost 10,000 of them were torn from their homes and families and forcibly deported to islands few could remember. Those who remained, did so on sufferance, and ongoing discrimination by law.
Until 1967 they were banned from:
1. Voting;
2. Buying alcohol;
3. Taking out loans;
4. Opening a savings account;
5. Buying or renting a house;
6. Leasing a business; or
7. Owning land.
Their movements were restricted and many were forced to live in shanties and camps erected in the bush, or along riverbanks. Then there were the regular ‘scare’ stories in the press, linking ‘Kanakas’ to outbreaks of disease and influenza. It was a time when anyone with a black skin was considered as less than human, and few people spoke out on their behalf.
Worst of all, they were legally prevented from working in agriculture, the only industry they knew. If they tried to work elsewhere, trade unions picketed the businesses that employed them. Any farmers who took pity on them and gave them labouring or gardening work, they were reported to authorities and prosecuted.
Long after ‘Kanakas’ ceased to be a threat to white workers, unions refused their union membership applications, preventing them from being employed in jobs covered by industrial awards. It wasn’t until 1964, that the prohibition of ‘black’ labour in the agricultural industry was finally abolished.
In 1991, the Call for Recognition reported on the plight of the South Sea Islanders, and recommended special measures be introduced to help right some of the many wrongs of the past. To this day, the recommendations contained in this report have not been actioned by any government in Australia, State or Federal.
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