You are in site section: Exhibitions

Keeping Guard

Keeping Guard

Australia's population has been shaped by many things. But one of the most important forces has been the role government has played in deciding who and what is allowed into the country.

Horizons looked at three types of regulation immigration restriction, quarantine and censorship and looked at how each has impacted on the other.

It also reminded us how official decisions can affect individual lives. Display items such as the handprint of a prohibited individual, and the story of Eugene Goossens told of a more suspicious past that was peppered with uncertainty and fear.

British or Australian?

The changing format of Australian passports shows that official attitudes to Australian citizenship and nationality have fluctuated. At different times last century, the label 'British Passport' has been removed and reinstated. In Horizons, you could see the proof for yourself.

Quarantine in Australia

In 1834, after outbreaks of scarlet fever in Ireland and cholera in Europe, the New South Wales Government built a quarantine station at North Head, Sydney. Later, each colony established quarantine stations to detain passengers of ships suspected of carrying infection.

Quarantine now applies to the importation of plants, animals and other organic matter that could threaten national safety through the introduction of disease.

Keeping Australia pure: The White Australia Policy

The Immigration Restriction Act was one of the first acts passed by the new Commonwealth Government in 1901. Although the Act did not mention race, it allowed authorities to keep out 'undesirable' immigrants, including non-Europeans. The White Australia Policy, as it became known, was not entirely abolished until 1973.

Loveday internment camp, 1940's, National Museum of Australia
Loveday internment camp, 1940s
National Museum of Australia

Internment: Suspect loyalty

During the two world wars, people thought to be a threat to national security were detained in camps across Australia. Many were adult males who shared the nationality of Australia's war-time enemies. Although there were some enemy sympathisers, most were recent migrants caught by public hostility towards enemy aliens.

Goossens, a victim of the time?

In 1956, Eugene Goossens, conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, was detained at Sydney airport for carrying pornographic materials. Was he framed by the vice squad, who were investigating his links with black magic, or was he just a victim of strict censorship regulations?