Banner image: Charlie Darrasool, a Melanesian pacific islander and his wife, an anglo-aboriginal. Because his wife was an Australian, he was exempt from being deported, unlike most of his people. Charlie could visit his birth place in the New Hebrides and return to live in Australia.

Besides Chinese, the coloureds classified here were Japanese, Indians, Malays*, Javanese, Cingalese, Filipinos, Afghans, South Sea Islanders, Siamese, Syrians (Lebanese Catholic, Jewish and Moslem) indigenous Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders.

A far greater variety and number of coloureds worked in Queensland than in any other Colony. 

Queensland's labour force composition was to be a contentious issue if Federation, with stricter immigration restriction, was to become a reality.

The Japanese
In the 1880s, the sugar industry was booming and there weren't enough "Kanakas" (South Sea
Islanders) to do the work. Sugar plantation owners turned to Asians to fill the gap. Chinese
workers were already in the country, and many worked for the sugar cane industry, especially
doing the hard work of clearing the land. The planters also brought in Javanese (now in Indonesia),
Singhalese from Ceylon (modern Sri Lanka), and especially Japanese, who came in from the late
The Japanese had a strong government looking after their interests, so they were well treated.
They had Japanese officials inspecting the plantations where they were employed. Japanese
workers insisted on being fed Japanese food, getting paid £20 and keep, and having hot baths. A
Consulate was established in Townsville to supervise the labourers.
Japanese workers were between 18-24 years old and were hired for 3 to 4 years. They were
considered reliable, intelligent, skilful and sober. Unlike other cultures, Japanese were allowed into
the country after the White Australia policy was put into practice in 1901, though in smaller
numbers. They continued to work in the sugar industry until the 1930s. They were also used as
labourers in the sugar mills as they were considered more capable than other non-white peoples.
This was in keeping with the ideas about race of the day.
By 1939 there were fewer than 300 Japanese employed in the sugar industry, and they were
interned (imprisoned) during World War II. Most were deported to Japan after the war. Today, few
people remember their contribution to the sugar industry of Queensland. (Cairns museum)1885
With the introduction of the Pacific Islanders Act, no Kanakas were to be imported after 1890. This
would deal a severe blow to the sugar industry so the Act was amended and extended until 1900.
Land was owned by the whites but cleared and worked by Chinese, Hindu, Punjabi, Japanese and
Kanaka labour.
Pt Douglas Hist. Soc Accessed 27.10.2017

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