The influence of those Asian immigrants has been far out of proportion to their numbers

Wednesday, June 19th, 2019

Australia has accepted many Asian immigrants, Jared Diamond notes (in Upheaval):

Under the Colombo Plan for Asian development, Australia accepted 10,000 Asian student visitors in the 1950’s.


The despised dictation test for prospective immigrants was dropped in 1958.


The Migration Act of that same year allowed “distinguished and highly qualified Asians” to immigrate.


Between 1978 and 1982 Australia admitted more Indochinese refugees, as a percentage of its population, than any other country in the world.


By the late 1980’s, nearly half of Australians were either born overseas or had at least one overseas-born parent.


By 1991, Asians represented over 50% of immigrants to Australia.


The influence of those Asian immigrants has been far out of proportion to their numbers: Asian students have come to occupy over 70% of the places in Sydney’s top schools, Asian university students appeared to account for a sizeable fraction of the students whom I saw strolling across the University of Queensland campus in 2008, and Asians and other non-Europeans now make up more than half of Australian medical students.


In 1986 Australia ended the right of final appeal to Britain’s Privy Council, thereby abolishing the last real trace of British sovereignty and making Australia fully independent at last.


In 1999 Australia’s High Court declared Britain to be a “foreign country.”


  1. Can someone give me a clue what the last two statements have to do with the others? I don’t really get the relationship.

  2. Kirk says:

    I presume that Isegoria is highlighting those points as indicators of the separation going on between England and Australia… They’re critical moments, cusps as it were, between Australia as a wholly-owned and operated subsidiary of England, and being their own nation. Rites of passage, as it were…

  3. E.E. says:

    Kirk’s comment reminds me of the sadness I feel–being an ex-colonial Anglophile– at the haphazard manner in which Britain is seemingly headed for the ‘No Deal’ rocks.

    They seemingly fail to understand that ‘Global Britain’is predicated on Anglo dominance, without it, the Chinese will see them through the prism of the Opium wars, the Indians through the Bengal famine and the diaspora Africans as ‘white’. Traditionalist Africans may be more amenable to closer ties, but there exists the gulf of wealth and wokeness between the two.

    I fail to see how they intend to exercise influence in a world which does not revolve around the Anglo sun, but it’ll no doubt be fun to observe.

  4. Harry Jones says:

    Here’s how it works.

    First you establish influence, by various and sundry means, involving a combination of daring and cleverness. Then you parlay said influence into dominance. And then the world revolves around your sun.

    Hegemony is an endpoint, not a starting point.

  5. Adar says:

    “In 1986 Australia ended the right of final appeal to Britain’s Privy Council, thereby abolishing the last real trace of British sovereignty and making Australia fully independent at last.”

    Canada also was not a fully independent nation state until 1977.

  6. Graham says:

    Yes, it was a process for us too, and there are lot of interesting points along the way.

    Before 1867, our existing components had already achieved “responsible” government, the Westminster style selection of the ministers from within and their accountability to the elected chamber. From Confederation in 1867, the level of our internal self-government seemed to quickly become more or less total. The next couple of generations amounted to testing the waters of international affairs, with some halting efforts to get representation in Washington and to influence British foreign policy toward the US. A bit like how sub-national governments now operate.

    WW1 was really decisive for us, too. Like the Aussies, we made a huge military contribution. Like them and the other Dominions, we got to take part in an imperial war cabinet, the only real substitute for central institutions at the empire level. SOme effect.

    I am most fascinated by the Chanak Crisis circa 1922. As Turkish nationalists looked to finish the job of ejecting the Greeks, overthrowing the last Ottomans, and resisting colonization, the Brits aimed to defend the international zone at Constantinople. They canvassed the Dominions and found little support for a new war, Canada leading the opposition. A watershed moment, although I find it striking that Britain would find it necessary to haul in Dominion troops for a prospective effort as relatively small as that. I mean, they used us in the Boer War too but I am struck by the idea that London would need Dominion troops for everything.

    At any rate, the crisis drove the 1924 imperial conference, which proclaimed the notion that the Dominions and UK were basically sovereign to each other and outside, could have their own foreign and military policies, that the Commonwealth would be the term for them within the larger empire held by the UK, and implied heavily that the Commonwealth was not an explicit military alliance.

    All this was implemented by the 1931 Statute of Westminster, which the Dominions had to incorporate into their own laws. Canada and probably SA did so quickly, Australia and NZ only during the war. It was probably the most important formal constitutional step to making the Dominions fully sovereign states, in that it explicitly understood them to be sovereign, to make their own foreign policies, and to have independent international legal status. It also ended legislation for the Dominions by Westminster, explicitly for the first time although this had been largely in place in practice, unless by their request.

    It also did things like- turn the monarchy from a single Crown to a set of Crowns in personal union with what amounted to a joint pact on succession laws; turn the Governors General from the representatives of the senior, British government to the Dominions to the representatives of the Monarch to his various realms, and briefly institute a fad in which Dominion governments, now promoted to equal status with London, could and sometimes did refer to themselves as “His Majesty’s Government in ….” instead of just “The Government of…”

    All these things took time to work through. As I said, at least Aus and NZ didn’t pass the statute right away. OTOH, in 1939 Canada declared war on Germany on its own behalf, seven days after the UK did so. That was new. The Aussies and Kiwis may have done so retroactively, not sure.

    The changes to the Crown were not as clear until George VI died and the royal style and titles were changed, by which time a lot of other stuff was happening with other parts of the empire as well.

    Just to show how gradual it all was, even before all this the Dominions had been admitted to the Paris Peace Conference and signed the Versailles Treaties. After WW2, they all took part in talks, took UN seats, participated in the surrenders of Germany Italy and Japan, and had to make their own eventual peace arrangements with those countries, having been individually at war with them. For example, like the other western allies Canada deferred formal peace with Germany until the London Accords of 1990, but issued a proclamation terminating the state of war between Canada and Germany around the time of the admission of West Germany to NATO.

    Ultimately, what was left after that was whatever formalities the former Dominions [the term died out in the generation after 1945] left notionally residing in the UK because they couldn’t quite settle domestic constitutional questions. With Canada, that was the perennial problem of our provinces disagreeing on the mutual status and Quebec’s in particular, and corresponding impossibility of finding a formula for all possible constitutional amendments agreeable to all. So on a few occasions we had to ask Westminster to pass an amendment to the British North America Act. We resolved this at last only in 1982.

    SO it’s a bit of a matter of perspective. For some Americans, I’ve found the fact of the “British” monarchy alone still means we’re not a real country. I think some folks are sufficiently unfamiliar with monarchies they’ve never heard of multiple sovereign states sharing one monarch and little or no other institutions, or just how purely formal that is when they all have constitutional government. It’s not dissimilar to when folks from highly centralized countries can’t understand how a federation can also be a nation, and treat the proposal of a federal system as a threat to breakup the nation. Concepts familiar to one people, alien to another.

    FOr those of us to whom foreign policy is the thing, 1931 is the master date, with nuance. For those of a judicial bent, 1982.

    Ultimately, one key is that the British were trying to offload us for decades, we just couldn’t make our minds on all our internal issues so it was easier to hold them hidden in the constitutional closet.

    The last element is citizenship and nationality. Prior to 1947, we were all British Subjects, a common nationality. Although Canada maintained a sub-status of “ordinarily resident in Canada”, so they could maintain landing restrictions against Asians and control just what kind of old country Brits could get in for settlement. Interestingly, for me, this meant we were separate sovereign nations with one citizenship during WW2.

    From 1947-8, we all including the UK created separate citizenships [theirs was called Citizen of the UK and Colonies, referring to their remaining colonial possessions, further narrowed in the 60s and 80s] but the status of British Subject was retained as an overarching status, a bit like EU citizenship has become for nationals of its members. It provided various diplomatic benefits and some access to the UK.

    Canada ended that in 1977. Just in time for the British Nationality Act of 1981 which created modern British Citizenship and ended British Subjecthood for all but those few who had no other legal nationality.

    Clear as mud, really.

  7. Graham says:

    The Brits still provide some benefits on a non-reciprocal basis. If you are a Commonwealth Citizen, which means a citizen of any member, and you are admitted to the UK by normal immigration process either for settlement or for a term of over 6 months, you can vote in a parliamentary election without being a British citizen.

    Even EU citizenship didn’t buy that privilege [EU citizens resident in another member state can vote there in local and EU but not national elections].

    When I lived there in 1995-6, Commonwealth and EU citizens shared the privilege of not having to register as Aliens with local police and carry an Aliens Registration Card. My American associates had them.

    On the flip side, EU nationals, even of states which had just joined in early 1995, paid the home student rate for study at British universities. As long as they had been resident in their own country for X years, again, even if it had just joined.

    Commonwealth students, unless resident in the actual UK for the same term, paid the full foreign rate. Bastards.

  8. CVLR says:

    Asian students have come to occupy over 70% of the places in Sydney’s top schools

    An insanity has gripped the hair of Australia.

Leave a Reply