Immigration Restriction Act 1901

This Act, known as the Immigration Restriction Act, was passed by the Australian Parliament in 1901. It is headed ‘An Act to place certain restrictions on Immigration and to provide for the removal from the Commonwealth of prohibited Immigrants’.

The Immigration Restriction Act 1901 is a landmark document of the first parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia. The six Australian colonies were governed by separate parliaments until Federation in 1901, when the Australian Government was formed.

This Act was a key part of a package of legislation designed to restrict the immigration and settlement of non-European people in Australia. The package also included:

  • the Pacific Islander Labourers Act 1901, which restricted the entry of Pacific Islanders to Australia
  • section 15 of the Post and Telegraph Act 1901, which required that ships carrying Australian mail use only white labour.

Dictation test

Section 3(a) of the Immigration Restriction Act 1901 defined ‘prohibited immigrants’ as those who fail to pass a dictation test of 50 words in a European language. This test became the key means of restricting immigration to Australia for over 50 years.

See scans of the original document:


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