Australia, in the Southern Hemisphere, is the biggest island nation in the world (blessed with minerals and agricultural land) and has 25 million people. Without new migrants, its population would be decreasing. First world nations have this tendency – reducing population. 90% of its population live in the cities, such as Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. Its legislated minimum wages for workers are the highest in the world. The giving of tips (at cafes for example) is not as common as in the USA. It could be said, its middle class (with egalitarian style) make up the bulk of the people. Its time zone is similar to the major countries of Asia, so Sydney and Melbourne are popular destinations for Asian professional or business migrants. Australia picks the cream of other nations’ peoples to come to ‘Down Under’ to live permanently. Singaporean migrants rate the most highly qualified academically, followed by Malaysian migrants. Politically, economically and socially, Australia punches above its weight (ie rates highly in the world) due to its history of good governance. Its people are generally decent – of course there is still 5% who are criminals, as said by Lee Kuan Yew of any race.

  1. In about 1,500 words, I will describe major events that affected Australia from 1900 to the present.
  2. 1900 – Australia has 3.7 million people.
  3. 1901 – Australia becomes a federation (Commonwealth of Australia) and adopts a Constitution that blends the British system of responsible government with the American model of federalism. The prime minister’s office is in Melbourne.
  4. 1901 – White Australia Policy is enshrined in law, and shaped ‘purity’ of race. In the 1880s there had been explosions of racial violence – especially against the Chinese on the gold fields. Trade unionists saw the Chinese as cheap labour and a threat to wage standards. Australia also feared the Japanese who were behaving like European colonists in Asia. Immigration of Asians is controlled by a dictation test of European languages. The Policy also denied rights to Indigenous Australians, who number about 1% of the population.
  5. 1906 – Australia takes control of south-eastern New Guinea (British New Guinea – Papua).
  6. 1913 – Canberra is officially named as the Capital of Australia. The prime minister’s office is moved here from Melbourne.
  7. 1914 – Australia enters the First World War assisting the British forces.
  8. 1915 – Taking part in the ‘Great War’, Australian troops land in Gallipoli, Turkey. Australians were known as formidable soldiers.
  9. 1918 – First World War ends with 60,000 Australians dead.
  10. 1918 – Prime Minister Billy Hughes signs Treaty of Versailles: the first signing of an international treaty by Australia. Australia obtains League of Nations mandate over German New Guinea. Hughes was preoccupied by the growth of Japan’s empire and wanted New Guinea for defence purposes. Germany was to pay 350 million pounds reparation costs to Australia – it only paid 6 million pounds when the payment ceased in 1932.
  11. 1920 – The airline Qantas (Queensland and Northern Territory Air Service) is founded.
  12. 1932 – The Sydney Harbour Bridge opens.
  13. 1932 – ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission) based on the British BBC model is set up by the Federal Government.
  14. 1932 – Great Depression – Australia has an unemployment rate of 32%. Australian exports fell by 50%, and income fell by 30%.
  15. 1939 – Australia enters Second World War.
  16. 1942 – Singapore falls – 15,000 Australians become Prisoners of War (POWs) of the Japanese.
  17. 1942 – Japanese air raids in Australia – almost 100 attacks were carried out against sites in the Northern Territory, Western Australia and Queensland (to 1943). More than 260 Japanese planes bombed Darwin – largest attack on Australia by a foreign power – that left 252 killed and 400 wounded. Japanese submarines raided Sydney Harbour – shelled Sydney and Newcastle. American attacks on Japanese forces in Asia held Japan back.
  18. 1942 – Battle of Kokoda Trail – Australian soldiers halt Japanese march on Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.
  19. 1944 –  Japanese inflict Sandakan Death March on 2,434 Australian and British prisoners of war – only 6 survive – this was the single worst war crime perpetrated against Australians. During the Second World War, a total of 22,000 Australians were captured by the Japanese. Australian POWs were treated badly by the Japanese, 36% of them – ie 8,000 soldiers died. Of the 7,000 Australians captured by German and Italians in Europe; 3% or 242 died.
  20. 1945 – Second World War ends with 37,000 Australians dead. Australia plays a leading role in founding of the United Nations.
  21. 1946 – Minister for Immigration Arthur Calwell introduces the major post-war immigration drive. Faced with lowered birth rates in 1930s and 1940s, Australia planned to increase the population to 7 million – it was a case of ‘populate or perish’. But Calwell is a former trade unionist and said, two ‘Wongs’ do not make a White, ‘purity’ of race attitude is still embedded.
  22. 1949 – Australian population reached 8 million. Many arrived from Britain and Europe.
  23. 1950 – Australian troops are sent to the Korean War to assist South Korea (to 1953). There is anti-communist hysteria.
  24. 1955 – Australia becomes involved in Malayan Insurgency (fighting Communists).
  25. 1956 – Summer Olympic Games is held in Melbourne.
  26. 1958 – An ‘entry permit’ system replaced the absurd dictation test – the dictation test ‘caused much resentment outside Australia’. It still did not open gates to Asia – as late as 1965 there were barely 25,000 Asians, half of them were Colombo Plan students.
  27. 1962 – Prime Minister Robert Menzies’ Commonwealth Electoral Act provided that all Indigenous Australians should have the right to enrol and vote at federal elections.
  28. 1962 – Malayan Insurgency ends.
  29. 1963 – Australian armed forces fight Indonesian troops during ‘Konfrontasi’; a three-year conflict on the island of Borneo and the Malay Peninsula, with Australian troops involved as part of a Commonwealth force under British command.
  30. 1964 – First troops sent to Vietnam War (fighting for South Vietnam).
  31. 1966 – Decimalisation – the Australian currency is changed to dollars and cents, with the Australian dollar replacing the Australian pound.
  32. 1967 – Prime Minister Harold Holt disappears while swimming at Cheviot Beach, Victoria.
  33. 1967 – Last person to be executed under the law.
  34. 1972 – Australia recognises the People’s Republic of China.
  35. 1973 – The Sydney Opera House is formally opened.
  36. 1973 – The White Australian Policy, established in 1901, is officially dismantled. A non-discriminatory immigration program becomes implemented.
  37. 1973 – Vietnam War ends.
  38. 1973 – New Guinea is ‘decolonised’ by Australia.
  39. 1975 – Governor-General John Kerr dismisses Prime Minister Gough Whitlam on 11 November 1975. Kerr then appointed Malcolm Fraser, Leader of the Opposition, as caretaker Prime Minister.
  40. 1976 – First arrival of Vietnamese refugees by boat. A total of 140,000 refugees arrived.
  41. 1978 – SBS multicultural TV Channel is established.
  42. 1983 – The Australian Dollar is floated.
  43. 1983 – Medicare is established.
  44. 1985 – The Australia Act removes the right of appeal from State courts to the British Privy Council, making the High Court the final court of appeal in Australia. The Act also removes all remaining rights of the UK parliament to pass law for Australia.
  45. 1986 – Crocodile Dundee movie is released in Australia.
  46. 1987 – Stock Market collapsed. The shock was largely absorbed.
  47. 1989 – Prime Minister Bob Hawke allows 42,000 Chinese (mainly students) in Australia to stay permanently due to the Tiananmen Square Incident in China.  
  48. 1991 – Labor government under Bob Hawke introduced the Migration Legislation Amendment Act to change the system of processing boat arrivals. It allowed immigration officials, at their discretion, to detain anyone suspected of being an illegal entrant; to address the uncontrolled arrival of large numbers of refugees.
  49. 1993 – Australian Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation becomes a worldwide empire of news with 500 subsidiary companies in Europe, the USA and Asia.
  50. 1995 – Union power declines. Only 31% of workers are Union members, compared to 51% in the 1960s.
  51. 1996 – Port Arthur massacre in Tasmania, with 35 dead, led to tighter gun laws.
  52. 1997 – Asian financial crisis. Australia impacted but not greatly.
  53. 1999 – Australia leads intervention force in East Timor to counter pro-Indonesia militia violence after territory’s independence vote.
  54. 1999 – Referendum on making Australia a republic defeated, with 55% voting to retain the status quo (who should be the head of government was a stumbling block).
  55. 2000 – John Howard Government introduces a Goods and Services Tax (of 10%).
  56. 2000 – Summer Olympic Games is held in Sydney.
  57. 2002 – Bali bombing (in Indonesia) kills 88 Australians (a total of 202 people including 38 Indonesians were killed).
  58. 2005 – Racially-motivated violence, involving thousands of youths, hits Sydney suburb of Cronulla. It started from an alleged bashing of a beach lifeguard.
  59. 2006 – Australian troops spearhead peacekeeping forces in East Timor and the Solomon Islands after unrest in both countries.
  60. 2008 – Government apologises for past wrongs committed against the indigenous population.
  61. 2008 – Global Financial Crisis – Australia instituted stimulus packages. Its exportation of more minerals to China helped saved its economy.
  62. 2009 – Bushfire kills 173.
  63. 2013 – Government adopts new policy of naval vessels intercepting boats of migrants and directing them back to Indonesia, which is followed by a dramatic reduction in arrivals.
  64. 2017 – Same sex marriage becomes legal (61% of total votes supported it).
  65. 2019 – Several bushfires throughout late 2019 affect every state and territory destroying 2,600 homes, killing 34 people and millions of animals.
  66. 2020 – Australia suffers lockdowns and social restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Compared to other Western nations, the pandemic is curbed well. Stimulus packages are implemented to save the economy.
  67. 2020 – Australia has 25 million people.

© Comasters November 2020.

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