3. The White Australia policy’s Dictation Test was made unfairly difficult so that Chinese people and other non-English speakers could not enter Australia.

What is hard, is for people to get their heads around the idea that for more than 50 years at the heart of Australia’s immigration system was a fake test. Not a difficult and unfair test, as it is often mistakenly portrayed, but an entirely fake one. Given in a language of choice – official choice (as long as it was European) – but always chosen so that it was one the person being given the test would fail. To be asked to sit a Dictation Test meant the official had already decided to bar your entry to Australia and this was merely the legal means of turning you into a “prohibited immigrant”.

For an ABC interview on this subject see Radio National and for an account of one person’s dealings with the Dictation Test in its later stages see A deserter’s fate: the Dictation Test at work,.