It was of benefit to Australia to introduce foxes, rabbits and cane toads.
The Australian continent accounts for just under 6 percent of the world’s landmass, Despite arid climate, bush fires, poor soils and perhaps the longest continuous human occupation anywhere, it is home to 12 percent of the world’s bird species, 10 percent of all reptiles and 9 percent of all frogs. It has about 6 percent of all mammals, but they are unique in 50 percent of all monotremes (warm blooded and egg laying mammals) and 66 percent of all marsupials (mammals with pouches) are exclusive to Australia.
For the early settlers these animals, such as kangaroos and koalas were unfamiliar and ‘foreign’ and they almost immediately began importing familiar things from ‘home.’ Animals and plants were brought to Australia as part of a project to augment or supplant the ‘inferior’ native flora and fauna. The red fox (Vulpes Vulpes) was probably brought out for sport as the native animals did not provide a satisfactory experience when hunted with guns or hounds. The native wild life had never experienced such a versatile mid-sized predator and many small to medium sized species had their numbers greatly decreased.
Similarly the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) came out with the first British fleet in 1788. By 1890 the rabbit population had reached plague proportions and in 1907 an anti-rabbit fence of 1,833 kilometres long unsuccessfully tried to halt their spread. Since then the development of several strains of viruses have failed to keep their populations down.
The Cane Toad (Bufo marinus) was deliberately introduced in 1935 against scientific advice to save the sugar industry from native beetles. Cane toads were imported from South America and while they ate insects these were not usually those they had been imported to eat as the toads were ground dwelling while these beetles only went to ground to lay their eggs. While Cane Toads spread more slowly than foxes or rabbits, they are prolific breeders and their toxin is potentially deadly to animals and humans. They have become environmentally disastrous.
A yellow peril from Asia threatens to overwhelm Australia.
The Yellow Peril was a colour metaphor for race that originated in the late nineteenth century with the immigration of Chinese workers and gold miners to Australia and the United States. The fear was that the migration of large numbers of the ‘yellow skinned multitudes’ of Asia would lower wages and standards of living. The belief was that they would not hold the same superior moral values and would corrupt European society.
The White Australia Policy is a generic term used to describe a collection of historical legislation and policies intended to restrict non-white immigration to this country. However the Racial Discrimination Act of 1975 made racially-based discrimination illegal. As Australia is located just to the south of Indonesia there remains fear among some Australians of these ‘Asian hordes’ spilling into this country. The recent detention by the Australian Government of non-European men, women and children, particularly those from Moslem countries, has raised this spectre once again.
Asylum seekers would throw their children overboard.
In 2001 the Australian Government won an election in part on the claim that a group of asylum seekers trying to reach Australia by boat were desperate, wealthy queue jumpers. The Government in suggesting they had links to terrorists and had thrown their children overboard, painted them as not the sort of people wanted in Australia. It was later revealed that the boat had sunk and that no one had thrown their children into the water.
Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
Australians went to war, together with the United States of America, because they were falsely told Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
© Copyright Liz Ashburn