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Politics and racism

Politics and racism

In this scene, Tasmanian Senator Thomas Bakhap, a former tin miner is addressing a small group of people outside Parliament House, Melbourne

In 1913 Senator Thomas Bakhap, a former tin miner, was elected to Federal Parliament as a senator for Tasmania. Here he is addressing a small group of people outside Parliament House, Melbourne.

Business and commerce

Although there was a rapid decline in the Chinese-born population in Australia from 29,000 in 1901 to 6000 by 1947, those who remained in Australia became increasingly involved in business and commerce. As early as 1854, organisations (tongs) promoting the welfare of Chinese people from specific counties, such as the See Yap Society, had been established. The See Yap Society still exists and is one of the oldest continuing organisations in Australia.

As migration from China was curtailed, particularly after 1901, many of the tongs disappeared but they were replaced with all-Chinese organisations that were set up to work in the interest of Chinese merchants and businessmen. The Chinese chambers of commerce in both Melbourne and Sydney were also established around this time.

In 1913, Thomas Jerome Bakhap, the adopted son of a Chinese father and a European mother, was elected to Federal Parliament as a Liberal senator representing Tasmania. Senator Bakhap was called upon by the Chinese community to assist with difficulties arising from the White Australia policy.