Finding home in white Australia: the O'Keefe deportation case of 1949

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In 1949 the White Australia Policy was put on trial in the High Court of Australia in the matter O’Keefe v Calwell; popularly known as the ‘O’Keefe Deportation Case’. Drawn from archival research, this article examines the legal arguments that both sides brought to the court. The case raised a number of issues that went far beyond narrow legal and technical arguments. Under what circumstances could a foreign-born non-European individual call Australia home? The answer to this question was seen to hold not only the fate of one Indonesian family but the White Australia Policy and also Australia’s entire postwar migration program.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-148
Number of pages21
JournalHistory Australia
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • White Australia policy
  • Deportation
  • Emigration and immigration law
  • Baby boom generation
  • Judgments
  • Emigration and immigration--Government policy


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