1934 Era


Under the White Australia Policy, non-European immigrants were required to write and sign a passage of 50 words in a European language as directed by a Customs officer. Those who failed the test were refused entry to Australia and were deported.

The most famous case involving the Dictation Test was that of Egon Kisch, a Prague-born Jewish socialist, who came to Australia to address the Movement Against War and Fascism in 1934. Upon receiving a telegram from Britain warning that Kisch was a communist, the conservative Lyons Government attempted to stop him disembarking, and when he was arrested, he jumped from the liner onto Station Pier and broke his leg.

Kisch was given the Dictation Test in Gaelic, due to his fluency in English and a number of other European languages, as an attempt to thwart his entry into Australia. However, Kisch took his case to the High Court and won.