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Category: Interviews »

Subject: Demographics »

Race and discrimination

Regina Ganter.

Historian Regina Ganter describes discriminatory measures used to categorise the state's diverse population from the 1800s, and the impact of World War Two in changing the demographics in North Queensland.



Date Added:

16 February 2006


Regina Ganter interviewed by Andrew Jakubowicz for MMA


mov (Quicktime);

File size:

3.7 MB


1 min 59 s


According to the 1897 Aborigines Protection and Prevention of the Sale of Opium Act, there was a definition of what it meant to be "half-caste" – we don't use that term anymore but it was a legal term under the Act so I'll have to use it. Because what it meant was that if you had an Aboriginal mother and a non-Aboriginal father, you were a "half-caste" under this Act. If you had an Aboriginal father and a non-Aboriginal mother it didn't matter. So very quickly of course the mixed populations that arose from these industries in the north outgrew this definition, because people might be descended from two mixed descendants and whatever. And there was a very big population, especially in the pearling centres, that.. where it was never quite clear what their status under the Act was. But they were very concerned not to be defined under the Act because it deprived them of so many liberties…

(What happened) at the outbreak of the war, is that the Japanese were rounded up and taken to internment camps like Tatura and Hay and so on, and some of the Aboriginal families were also rounded up…

The north didn't become predominantly white until World War Two when it was actually evacuated, when civilians were evacuated, the Japanese were repatriated, Aboriginal people were gathered up near the military stations. And of course there was a massive importation of Allied forces, and road-building and infrastructure development and so on. This is for the first time, in 1942, is when the north had a white majority.