Bridging the Distance | 1945-populate-or-perish
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‘If the experience of the Pacific War has taught us one thing,
it surely is that seven million Australians cannot hold
three million square miles of this earth’s surface indefinitely.’


The need to increase Australia’s industrial and military capabilities through a massive increase in population was felt all the more in light of the recent Pacific War. In 1945 Arthur Calwell became the first Minister for Immigration, thus becoming the chief architect of Australia’s post-war immigration scheme. And he became famous for his relentless promotion of it, overcoming resistance to mass immigration by promoting it under the slogan: ‘populate or perish’

Passport to progress

This documentary, produced by the Department of Immigration in the late 1950s, looks at the positive role the ‘New Australians’ have played in the nation’s development and culture. It features ‘new’ and ‘old’ Australians working side-by-side, as well as new ways of living such as ‘open-air cafes selling cappuccinos’. The movie concludes under the slogan: ‘planned immigration is Australia’s passport to progress’ and that there is need for many more immigrants.