Maltese 'prohibited immigrants'

Author: Dr. Barry York, Europe-Australia Institute,

Between 1901 and 1946, more than three million immigrants and visitors were admitted into Australia. Over the same period, more than 3,290 persons were refused admission as prohibited immigrants.

Unfortunately, the figures are not complete because those for two years (1906 and 1925) are missing from the official record and some groups, including the Maltese, were not listed separately until several years after the compilation of the annual returns on immigration commenced in 1901. The figures for all groups should be preceded by the words "at least". In the case of the Maltese, separate figures on exclusions (prohibited immigrants) were only compiled between 1912 and 1946 while figures on Maltese admissions were only compiled between 1911 and 1946.

The largest single group of persons excluded from Australia comprised the Chinese who were a main target of the White Australia Policy. At least 1,527 Chinese were refused permission to disembark but individuals of virtually every nationality or ethnicity - from Armenians to West Indians - were excluded at one time or another.

The Maltese were the second largest excluded (prohibited immigrant) group, with a total of 224 persons refused admission into Australia between 1912 and 1946. They were followed by the Italians, with 174 excluded persons and the Indians with 104.

These figures in themselves do not seem significant but it must be kept in mind that most of the individuals or groups excluded had arrived at Australian ports with the reasonable expectation that they would be allowed to disembark. These were persons migrating to Australia on lawful passports. The Maltese people's British status was meaningless when it came to their exclusion.

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