In defence of white Australia

discouraging Asian marriage in postwar south-east Asia

Mathew Radcliffe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)


On 27 March 1952, the Australian Minister for Immigration, Harold E. Holt, granted formal permission for Japanese women who were either married or engaged to Australian soldiers to enter Australia. In response, in the mid-1950s, the Department of Defence developed a policy which sought to dissuade Australian servicemen from marrying Asian women. Through a series of administrative procedures involving compulsory interviews, medical assessments and security checks, Australian military commanders employed a combination of pressure, intimidation and misinformation in their efforts to persuade Australian servicemen to abandon their plans to marry local Asian women. This article argues that, in the absence of any official policy responsibility in immigration matters, the Australian Department of Defence maintained a fervent commitment to the tenets of racial exclusivity contained at the heart of the White Australia policy from the mid-1950s to the early 1970s by discouraging Australian servicemen from entering into Asian marriages.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184-201
Number of pages18
JournalAustralian Historical Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014

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