Anti immigration sentiment
Proposals to admit Jewish refugees met with a hostile reception. Known as ‘anti-refo’ feeling, this manifested itself in the late 1930s and continued after 1945 in general newspapers, statements by some parliamentarians and resolutions passed by pressure groups such as the forerunner of the Returned Services League (RSL). Extreme feelings were also expressed in daubing and damage to property, particularly in areas of Jewish concentrations in Melbourne and Sydney. These negative reactions summed up by Liberal politician Henry Baynton Gullett in 1946:
‘we are not compelled to accept the unwanted of the world at the dictate of the United Nations or any one else. Neither should Australia be a dumping ground for people whom Europe itself, in the course of 2,000 years, has not been able to absorb’.
Most Australians favoured immigration from Britain and opposed admission of large numbers of aliens for fear that they would undermine Australian living standards, as seen with the ‘White Australia’ policy.