Monga Khan an Indian Hawker from the Punjab, India, was one of the British Subjects in Australia before the National Citizenship Act 1948. He was an itinerant worker whose intention was to make money to send back to his family in India and eventually to return to India himself. He became ill in Ararat, Victoria and died there in 1930. The first real Australians were the Aborigines. They were follow by soldiers and convicts in the 1780’s and 90’s, their issue were the Currency Lasses and Laddies who considered themselves to be superior to all people not born in Australia.
This continued until 1948, when the nationality of most of those who may have considered themselves Australian were in fact British Subjects. This changed when Australian Citizenship was created through the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948, which came into effect on the 26 January 1949. The Act introduced an oath of allegiance taken as part of a ceremony for new citizens and Australians for the first time had a true identity.
Arthur Calwell said: “…My aim, and that of the Government, is to make the word, ‘Australian’ mean all that it truly stands for to every member of our community. We shall try to teach the children that they are fortunate to be British, and even more fortunate to be Australian.” Multiculture was introduced legislatively in the 1970’s, which undermined Calwell’s statement. So it can be seen that a “Real Australian” is an evolving creature.
Multiculturalism is not a new in Australia, as can be seen by the cartoon by Ben Strange published in the Western Mail Newspaper, Perth on the 31 July 1909, depicting witnesses at a court case at the Perth Local Court, where two coloured men were plaintiffs and a white man the defendant. The witnesses were from varied ethnic backgrounds and were described in the newspaper as comprising of “whites (Christians and Jews) an American Black, a Buddhist, Sikhs, Mohammedans and Chinese. Also mentioned was that there were various methods of “taking the oath.”
© Len Kenna & Crystal Jordan 27.05.2016