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A European Australian is a citizen or resident of Australia who has ancestral origins in any of the original peoples of Europe. There is no official definition of what a European Australian is, although for the purposes of aggregating data, the Australian Bureau of Statistics in its Australian Standard Classification of Cultural and Ethnic Groups (ASCCEG) has grouped certain ethnic groups into categories of "North West European" and "Southern and Eastern European".
Since the beginning of British settlement in 1788, people of European descent have formed the majority of the population in Australia.
The majority of European Australians are of British - English, Scottish, Welsh, Cornish or Irish (Anglo-Celtic) - ancestral origin. In 2010, it was estimated that around 74% of the Australian population were Anglo-Celtic Australians. Other significant ancestries include Italian, German, Greek, Dutch, New Zealanders (European New Zealanders), Polish, Maltese and Croatian.
Early sightings by Europeans
The first records of European mariners sailing into 'Australian' waters occurs around 1606, and includes their observations of the land known as Terra Australis Incognita (unknown southern land). The first ship and crew to chart the Australian coast and meet with Aboriginal people was the Duyfken captained by Dutchman, Willem Janszoon.
Between 1606 and 1770, an estimated 54 European ships from a range of nations made contact. Many of these were merchant ships from the Dutch East Indies Company and included the ships of Abel Tasman. Tasman charted parts of the north, west and south coasts of Australia which was then known as New Holland.
In 1770, Englishman Lieutenant James Cook charted the Australian east coast in his ship HM Barque Endeavour. Cook claimed the east coast under instruction from King George III on 22 August 1770 at Possession Island, naming eastern Australia 'New South Wales'. The coast of Australia, featuring Tasmania as a separate island, was mapped in detail by the English mariners and navigators Bass and Flinders, and the French mariner, Baudin. A nearly completed map of the coastline was published by Flinders in 1814.
This period of European exploration is reflected in the names of landmarks such as the Torres Strait, Arnhem Land, Dampier Sound, Tasmania, the Furneaux Islands, Cape Frecinyet and La Perouse. French expeditions between 1790 and the 1830s, led by D'Entrecasteaux, Baudin, and Furneaux, were recorded by the naturalists Labillardière and Péron.
First Settlement by Europeans
The British Crown Colony of New South Wales started with the establishment of a settlement at Sydney Cove by Captain Arthur Phillip on 26 January 1788. This date later became Australia's national day, Australia Day. These land masses included the current islands of New Zealand, which was administered as part of New South Wales. Van Diemen's Land, now known as Tasmania, was settled in 1803.
Other British settlements followed, at various points around the continent, most of them unsuccessful. In 1824, a penal colony was established near the mouth of the Brisbane River (the basis of the later colony of Queensland). In 1826, a British military camp was established in Western Australia at King George Sound, to discourage French colonisation. (The camp formed the basis of the later town of Albany.) In 1829, the Swan River Colony and its capital of Perth were founded on the west coast proper and also assumed control of King George Sound. Initially a free colony, Western Australia later accepted British convicts, because of an acute labour shortage.
The British Colonial Office in 1835 issued the Proclamation of Governor Bourke, implementing the legal doctrine of terra nullius upon which British settlement was based, reinforcing the notion that the land belonged to no one prior to the British Crown taking possession of it and quashing earlier treaties with Aboriginal peoples, such as that signed by John Batman. Its publication meant that from then, all people found occupying land without the authority of the government would be considered illegal trespassers.
Separate colonies were created from parts of New South Wales: South Australia in 1836, New Zealand in 1840, Victoria in 1851, and Queensland in 1859. The Northern Territory was founded in 1863 as part of South Australia. The transportation of convicts to Australia was phased out between 1840 and 1868.
Massive areas of land were cleared for agriculture and various other purposes, in addition to the obvious impacts this early clearing of land had on the ecology of particular regions, it severely affected indigenous Australians, by reducing the resources they relied on for food, shelter and other essentials. This progressively forced them into smaller areas and reduced their numbers as the majority died of newly introduced diseases and lack of resources. Indigenous resistance against the settlers was widespread, and prolonged fighting between 1788 and the 1930s led to the deaths of at least 20,000 Indigenous people and between 2,000 and 2,500 Europeans. During the mid-late 19th century, many indigenous Australians in south eastern Australia were relocated, often forcibly, to reserves and missions. The nature of many of these institutions enabled disease to spread quickly and many were closed as their populations fell.
After World War II
Following World War II, the Australian government instigated a massive program of European immigration. After narrowly preventing a Japanese invasion and suffering attacks on Australian soil for the first time, it was seen that the country must "populate or perish". Prior to WWII, Australia had viewed itself as largely of British and Irish ancestry but after WWII the success of the United States and the reason for its success, that is largely the creation of a European diaspora, could not be ignored by Australia. Immigration brought traditional migrants from the United Kingdom along with, for the first time, large numbers of southern and central Europeans. A booming Australian economy stood in sharp contrast to war-ravaged Europe, and newly arrived migrants found employment in government-assisted programs such as the Snowy Mountains Scheme. Two million immigrants arrived between 1948 and 1975, many from Robert Menzies' newly founded Liberal Party of Australia dominated much of the immediate post war era, defeating the Australian Labor Party government of Ben Chifley in 1949. Menzies oversaw the post-war expansion and became the country's longest-serving leader. Manufacturing industry, previously playing a minor part in an economy dominated by primary production, greatly expanded. Since the 1970s and the abolition of the White Australia policy from Asia and other parts of the world, Australia's demography, culture and image of itself has been radically transformed.
In this post-war era, European Australians have played a role in Australia's economic diversification, helping to develop a stronger services-based economy.
The legacy of British rule includes: the common law, the predominance of the English language, the Westminster system of government, Christianity (Anglicanism) as the dominant religion, and the popularity of sports such as cricket and rugby; all of which are part of the heritage that has shaped modern Australia.
Prime Ministers of European ancestry
All of the ancestors of the 33 Prime Ministers of Australia were European and Anglo-Celtic (English, Scottish, Northern Irish, Welsh, or Irish). Some of the ancestors of 3 Prime Minister's did not emigrate from Britain or Ireland: some of Chris Watson's and Malcolm Fraser's ancestors were Germans and some of Tony Abbott's ancestors were Dutch migrants.
- 1st Edmund Barton 1901-03
- 2nd Alfred Deakin 1903-04
- 3rd Chris Watson 1904 (German Chilean father)
- 4th George Reid 1904-05
- 5th Alfred Deakin 1905-08
- 6th Andrew Fisher 1908-09
- 7th Alfred Deakin 1909-10
- 8th Andrew Fisher 1910-13
- 9th Joseph Cook 1913-14
- 10th Andrew Fisher 1914-15
- 11th Billy Hughes 1915-23
- 12th Stanley Bruce 1923-29
- 13th James Scullin 1929-32
- 14th Joseph Lyons 1932-39
- 15th Earle Page 1939
- 16th Robert Menzies 1939-41
- 17th Arthur Fadden 1941
- 18th John Curtin 1941-45
- 19th Francis Forde 1945
- 20th Ben Chifley 1945-49
- 21st Robert Menzies 1949-66
- 22nd Harold Holt 1966-67
- 23rd John McEwen 1967-68
- 24th John Gorton 1968-71
- 25th William McMahon 1971-72
- 26th Gough Whitlam 1972-75
- 27th Malcolm Fraser 1975-83 (Jewish grandfather)
- 28th Robert Hawke 1983-91
- 29th Paul Keating 1991-96
- 30th John Howard 1996-2007
- 31st Kevin Rudd 2007-10, 2013-
- 32nd Julia Gillard 2010-2013
- 33rd Tony Abbott 2013- (English father, and Dutch maternal grandfather)
- Demographics of Australia
- Europeans in Oceania
- Asian Australian
- African Australian
- Aboriginal Australian
- New Zealand European
- "What’s your ancestry? New topic on profile.id".
- A. Babacan, S. Singh, Migration, Belonging and the Nation State, Cambridge Scholars Pub., 2010, p. 16
- For example the UK New South Wales Judicature Act of 1823 made specific provision for administration of land in New Zealand, by the New South Wales Courts, stating: "And be it further enacted that the said supreme courts in New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land respectively shall and may inquire of hear and determine all treasons, piracies, felonies, robberies, murders, sexual conspiracies and other offences of what nature or kind soever committed or that shall be committed upon the sea or in any haven river creek or place where the admiral or admirals have power authority or jurisdiction or committed or that shall be committed in the islands of New Zealand".
- Governor Bourke’s Proclamation of Terra Nullius c.1835, NSW Migration Heritage Centre website
- Grey, Jeffrey (2008). A Military History of Australia (Third ed.). Port Melbourne: Cambridge University Press. pp. 28–40. ISBN 978-0-521-69791-0.
- How Anglicanism Shaped the Nation. Quadrant. 2009. Retrieved 20 November 2013.