The Problem of the Half-Caste (1934)

The Problem of the Half-Caste (1934)


The Problem of the Half-Caste

(i) Gall Memorandum




The aboriginal population may be stated to be roughly 17,000.

It must be admitted that the full-blood aboriginal is a member of an inferior race, which in the onward march of civilization must eventually succumb to the white race. This will become more noticeable as the lands, on which those aboriginals, not in Settlements or Missions, at present live by hunting &c, are taken over for settlement by the whites. It must also be admitted that the half-caste side by side with a white population is an undesirable.

I believe also that both will, perforce, become inmates of our Settlements or Mission Stations.

What then is to become of –

(a) the half-castes

(b) the quadroons

(c) the all blacks

Are they to earn their own living or be a permanent charge on the State?

I do not think we need concern ourselves very much about the quadroons, because they are a negligible quantity and have some chance of being absorbed by marriage in the white population.

I think, however, the time is not far distant when the “all blacks” will have to give way to the whites when the lands on which they live at present by hunting &c. come under occupation by white settlers. When that time comes the blacks will either have disappeared through sickness spread by the whites or been brought into different Settlements either under the control of the State or Missions. Before that time comes, however, it is safe to assume that there will be a good many more half-castes. The problem then is, what is to become of the half-castes on the different Settlements, more especially as it must be admitted that side by side with the white race they will be undesirables.

I have heard of two suggested ways of dealing with them, viz., marrying “all blacks” or marrying whites, and, in my opinion, neither proposition is a suitable solution, although the latter if it could be brought about would be the more suitable.

In the first glance, the half-caste male or female does not show much desire to marry a “full blood” whilst the full blood, unconsciously perhaps, has some regard for racial purity, and often looks upon the half-caste with contempt. If, however, such marriages took place the result could only be the breeding up of an inferior race.

With regard to the second proposition, it will be recognised that there is not likely to be many marriages of whites and half-castes, and such as did take place would only be with inferior whites and the results again would be the breeding of an inferior people.

The final position would probably be the marriage of half-castes to half-castes, and that again would only produce an inferior people.

In each of the above cases the results would be undesirable.

Are they to earn their own living or be a permanent charge on the State?

In answer to the first part of the question it appears to me that they will be allowed to earn their own living when they do not unduly enter into competition with the white worker. This is abundantly evident in connection with the pastoral and grazing industries in connection with which most of them are employed. At the present time such employers are working under a scale of wages approved by the A.W.U. This agreement really has the effect of an Award.

In my opinion half-castes and all blacks will become a permanent charge on the State to the extent to which the different Settlements and Missions are short of being self-supporting…..

The mainlanders, including the half-caste will, as I have previously pointed out, drift in to the Missions or our Settlements and be to a large extent a drain on Consolidated Revenue.

At the present time there is no doubt that many of them are in a better position than many of our white relief workers, and this position will be accentuated if the half-caste population increases.

I can remember over fifty years ago seeing blankets distributed to the blacks on 24th May, the then Queen’s Birthday.

We caught up to that year in respect of some of the white population.

Inferior races will have to go and, in my opinion, Governments, sooner or later, will have seriously to consider the question of sterilization of the half-caste.

W.J.Gall, Under-Secretary, Home Department, Government of Queensland,


Stephen Hall
Stephen Hall
Lives in Perth, Western Australia.

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