In the post World War Two years, Australia's population was stagnating. There was fear of the 'yellow peril' to the north and the catch cry was 'populate
The 'White Australia Policy' whose origins could be traced back to 1901 was still very much in force so it was
decided to encourage British migrants to Australia by subsidising their fares. The normal cost of a passage to Australia was about 120 pounds, the Australian
Government subsidised 110 pounds of this meaning immigrants were only paying 10 pounds to get here.
The only catch was that if you took up the offer you had to stay at least two years before deciding to return or you would have to pay the full fare home
yourself. You also had to pass a health check and be under 45 years of age.
During the 1950s and 60s around 1 million Britons emigrated to Australia with some 25% deciding that life in Australia was not for them and returning
home. (These were always referred to by Australians as the 'whinging Poms' and many of them deserved the name.)
Originally it was expected that 70,000 Britons a year would come to Australia but in the first year alone 400,000 applied. During the 1950s wages in
Australia were some 50% higher than those in England (especially for tradesmen) and this plus the outdoor free and easy lifestyle Australia had to offer
was very attractive to many young men and women.
1968 was the peak year of immigration with 600,000 Britons arriving. The scheme was gradually phased out in the 1980s but recently there has been talk of
reviving the idea once again.
As a 'ten pound pom' myself I can still remember the excitement of travelling to a new, unknown land. Most of us who arrived are very grateful to
Australia for the opportunity we were given. Speaking personally I wound never dream of living anywhere but Australia.
What about some 'ten pound poms' that people think are Australian, well try these names for a start, Hugh Jackman, The Bee Gees, Noni Hazlehurst,
Jimmy Barnes, John Waters, John Farnham, Olivia Newton John, Kylie Minogue, Leyland Brothers and what about some of the more infamous ones? Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott
and Alan Bond. (Technically Tony Abbott's parents were ex-pat Australians living in London but still qualified for assisted passage.)
The Achillie Lauro. I arrived on her in 1966, went back to the UK in 1969 and came back again in 1972 all on the same ship.