Is a White Australia possible? [3 January 1922]

[Editor: An article about the Rev. Dr. John Dunmore Lang, immigration, and White Australia. Published in The Register (Adelaide, SA), 3 January 1922.]

Is a White Australia possible?

From the Rev. J. C. Kirby:—

Dr. John Dunmore Lang, minister of the Scotch Church, Sydney, was the first man of note to propound the doctrine of White Australia, which he did more than 60 years ago. He perceived and proclaimed that this great empty continent could and should be made the home of a great white nation, able to realize and sustain the highest grade of civilization.

For this end he thought that the Chinese and cognate races should not be permitted to settle in Australia, and that systematic means should be used to settle selected persons from the British Isles in these territories. He thought that the question of settling these countries should not be left to mere chance efforts by individuals; but that the community should combine to introduce the new settlers and help them to establish ways of making a living, especially by helping them to profitable settlement of the land.

Dr. Lang was not a mere talker. When his brother died and left him some thousands he went to Great Britain and selected persons whom he sent out, and those persons became the foundations of prosperous families both in New South Wales and Queensland. Though Dr. Lang lost money on the transaction he did not regret it. I had the honour of his acquaintance in his later days, and in my youth.

The doctor was a great politician always. As a member of Parliament he generally had two or three constituencies to choose from. Dr. Lang would never accept political office or emolument, but swayed the Parliament, because he swayed the public, who believed the doctor to be a most able and at the same time a most unselfish man.

His great idea was a great white nation of a hundred millions properly settled on Australian territory, and well educated both in the fear of the Lord, and therefore of a high-grade morality, trained also in the arts and sciences which make civilized and effective men. But hitherto Australians have never risen to the grandeur of Dr. Lang’s ideals.

Dr. Lang used to say, “We cannot maintain a hold on Australia without an adequate number of efficient immigrants, and he thought all other politics inferior to this great end. The statue of Dr. Lang stands at Sydney facing the vast Pacific; but he could never induce Australia to establish immigration on a wise and great scale, so as to utilize the vast lands and material deposits and make the country defensible because of the great numbers of its people.

Having received the help of the vast and varied development of modern science, without any special wisdom on the part of our rulers, we have attained a population of 5,000,000. Looking at the world of natives of to-day, unless Australia can establish on its land within 50 years 20,000,000 of people, the white nation cannot keep it, and the people of this land must fall in racial grade.

We hear a good deal about the Australian Natives — what are they doing to secure at once their nation and their country? The completion of the railway from Port Augusta to Darwin might be carried out in connection with a great settlement of uninhabited lands. The railway would pass fertile as well as barren country.

The Register (Adelaide, SA), 3 January 1922, p. 2

Editor’s notes:
Australian Natives = the Australian Natives’ Association, a fraternal patriotic organisation and mutual society of Australian-born people, which was originally established in April 1871 as the Victorian Natives’ Association, but which extended its coverage to all Australians in 1872

cognate = related; connected; people connected by blood (especially regarding relatives on the maternal side of a family); words of a connected linguistic origin

Lord = in a religious context, and capitalized, a reference to Jesus or God

[Editor: The original text has been separated into paragraphs.]

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