Tavan, Gwenda: Immigration Department nation-building

Tavan, Gwenda

Remembering the “old” Department of Immigration’s nation-building traditions‘, The Conversation, 14 July 2015

As the old Immigration department merges with the Customs service to form a fully-fledged border protection operation, this article (and two associated ones linked to it) look at the history of the department since 1945.

History is generally on the side of the old department. For all its faults and weaknesses, its role was fundamental to the postwar immigration program’s success.

Its wide-ranging activities reflected a complete approach to immigration. New settlers – including refugees – were viewed as potential citizens and contributors to the common wealth, not just workers, “leaners” or consumers of public goods. Linked to this was a strong commitment – at least in the early days – to keeping the Australian people on side with immigration.

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