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Aborigines: They’re gonna die out anyway

There’s been a lot of talk about racism in this country and how it is being applied in the political and social landscape. This is not a recent phenomena, rather, an ongoing one that has weaved throughout our society for over 200 years.  To understand our racial attitudes I thought I’d take a look at our racist heritage. As an ‘historian’, I’m not interested in what our forefathers did on such-and-such a day, but what was in their minds that drove them to do it. In particular, why were they intent on ridding the country of the first Australians? My research concludes that in the minds of our colonial forefathers the demise of the Aborigines was ordained by a higher order, and with due thanks to Mother Nature the pair colluded to wipe them off the face of the earth. The colonists were quite happy to hurry things along, content with the notion that “they’re gonna die out anyway”.

This is not a short read, but I hope for those who have the time and patience to read through it will gain something.

Here goes.

Australia was determined to maintain what it believed was its racial homogeneity. If the indigenous peoples continued their perceived decline towards extinction (and other migrant races were excluded or expelled), a ‘pure race’ could logically result.

Even before colonisation, the construct of the Aborigine saw them positioned in the landscape as a savage: a subsequent depiction that evolved in the minds of European imagination. The English, especially, considered themselves well credentialed. As the first Englishman to encounter Aborigines, William Dampier instilled in other Englishmen’s minds the preconceptions about these people when he wrote that they were “the miserablest people in the world”. And the image of the Aborigine was to leave no impression of excitement or significance on James Cook, a later visitor, merely accepting the Aborigines as Dampier had earlier reported. Cook had also brought with him images of indigenous peoples as noble savages, largely the antithesis of Europeans. Cook was probably influenced by the writings of Rousseau, whose saw native peoples as unadulterated by the evils of civilisation. These idealistic views were modified after 1788, however, these early explorers neither saw or reported no positive attributes among the Aboriginal people and believed in their own superiority. The land was declared terra nullius . . . and the various Aboriginal nations declared uncivilised.

Earlier constructs of Aboriginal people were no less flattering. Constructed by Europeans in their absence, Australia’s Aborigines were placed low in the order of humanity based on their perceived lack of intellect and active powers. These conceived attitudes were carried throughout colonial Australia and helped secure the fate of the Aborigines.

The preconceptions had thus germinated by 26th January 1788 when the history of European-Aboriginal interactions began as the British flag was raised at Port Jackson. Accordingly, Governor Phillip and others brought their own preconceptions about Aborigines and also their intentions of their future. Based on these preconceptions they would be considered a part of Australia’s past.

Contemporary writers offer a picture suggesting that in January 1788 amicable relations between the Europeans and the Aborigines were established with comparative ease. They wrote liberally of pleasant interactions, confidently suggesting that the Aborigines would soon discover that the colonists were not their enemies, and noted that the Aborigines were treating the whites as their equals. However, as Aboriginal people had nothing the invader wanted but their land, attempts to maintain diplomatic relations with them were abandoned.

Nevertheless, Aborigines were to be treated as equals of British subjects – without actually being British subjects – in order to allow the Governor some semblance of control over actual British subjects.

Regarding the legal status of Aborigines in the early days of colonial settlement’ official correspondence frequently drew a distinction between British subjects and the Aborigines, treating the two groups differently. However, as interaction between the groups increased, Aboriginal people came to be treated as if they were British subjects, albeit for some purposes.

At the outset of white settlement the British government claimed ownership of all land for the crown. London espoused the ethnocentric viewpoint that Aboriginal peoples who did not cultivate the land and who showed no signs of permanent homes were not accorded any legal rights to the lands. Instead, the Aboriginals were to be treated as coming under British dominion, subject theoretically to the same laws which applied to the European settlers. Just as the colonists were allowed to manage their own affairs, so the Aborigines were left to themselves to do as they like so long as they do not interfere with the colonists. If an effort was made by the government to benefit them by trying to induce them to adopt a civilised life, it is left entirely at their option whether they permitted themselves to come under the provisions made for their benefit or not.

However, as the colonies later became self-governing in the latter half of the nineteenth century and the influence of London declined, Aboriginal people were increasingly displaced, legally and physically, as a distinct people. This change was to be dramatic in the latter half of the nineteenth century when the distinctive differences could be explained, classified, and sanctioned.

The year 1859 saw the publication of a rather important book: Charles Darwin’s The Origins of Species. In his book Darwin suggested that species were not permanently fixed, that they were all undergoing change by natural selection. If a species did not adapt successfully, it was liable to become extinct. Only the favoured survived and prospered in the struggle for life.

Darwin’s theories also suited the social order. Even before The Origin of Species, the idea of ‘the survival of the fittest’, a phrase coined by Herbert Spencer, was being used to justify ruthless competition between individuals, classes, nations and races. Although The Origins of Species did not relate natural selection to humanity, it seemed to give a scientific – and therefore moral – sanction to repressive social relationships. For the remainder of the century, Social Darwinism, as this misapplication of Darwin’s ideas came to be called, was used to justify the oppression and exclusion of the Aborigines. Darwin’s ideas seemed to justify what happened when the British expanded their empire, populated new lands and dispossessed indigenous peoples. Before Darwin had published The Origin of Species, the extinction of the Aborigines was being explained away as ‘the design of Providence’. Darwin’s theories gave such sentiments an aura of scientific legitimacy.

Following the publication of Darwin’s book the view of evolution was quickly applied to the study of racial groups. Herbert Spencer considered the development of society and human intellect in evolutionary terms and argued that the dominant races overrun the inferior races. Spencer’s premise that a general law of evolution could be formulated led him to apply the biologic scheme of evolution to human society. The doctrine of social structure and change, if the generalisations of his system were pertinent, must be the same as those of the universe at large. In applying evolution to human society, Spencer, and after him the Social Darwinists, was adding integrity to its origins. The survival of the fittest was a biological generalisation of the cruel colonial processes at work in late nineteenth century society. Spencer himself wrote that the whole effort of nature is to get rid of such, to clear the world of them, and make room for better. Nature is as insistent upon fitness of mental character as she is upon physical character.

Spencer, significantly, was more concerned with mental than physical evolution. This doctrine confirmed his evolutionary optimism. For if mental as well as physical characteristics could be inherited, the intellectual powers of the race would become cumulatively greater, and over several generations the ideal person would ultimately be developed.

Spencer’s theory of social selection was written out of his concern with population problems. In two articles that appeared in 1852, seven years before Darwin’s book was published, Spencer had set forth the view that the pressure of survival upon population must have a beneficent effect upon the human race. This pressure had been the immediate basis of progress from the earliest human times. By placing a premium upon skill, intelligence, self-control, and the power to adapt through technical innovation, it had stimulated human advancement and selected the best of each generation for survival.

Darwin precipitated the development of this new perspective on ‘race’. If the human race had evolved, it was perhaps natural to suppose that the human races might represent evolutionary stages. Social Darwinism was subsequently to become one of the leading strains in conservative thought and was used to defend racial conflict. Although Darwinism was not the primary source of the belligerent ideology and dogmatic racism of the late nineteenth century, it did become a new instrument in the hands of the colonial theorists of race and struggle.

Spencer’s theory had considerable influence in European social evolutionary thinking. Within a few years of the publications of Spencer’s work he was known to a considerable body of American readers and the following article from The Atlantic Monthly 1864 draws parallels to the ideologies of the colonial Australian and articulates the influence of his work:

Mr. Herbert Spencer is already a power in the world . . . He has already influenced the silent life of a few thinking men whose belief marks the point to which the civilisation of the age must struggle to rise. . . . Mr. Spencer has already established principals which, however compelled for a time to compromise with prejudices and vested interests, will become the recognised basis of an improved society.

The doctrine of Social Darwinism had thus produced a set of ideas that were to be very engaging to the colonial society. Previously Europeans had been convinced of the inferiority of the Aborigines, but that did not justify their extinction, whereas Social Darwinism did. Colonial Australia proved an attractive spawning ground for Social Darwinist ideas since it was an area of new Anglo-Saxon settlement where racial conflict needed to be explained away.  Although Darwin only gained real acceptance in Australian scientific circles towards the end of the century, at a more popular level his ideas enjoyed a very wide currency. In the first place, they provided a comforting, seemingly scientific explanation for the actual destruction of Aboriginal society. Previously Europeans had been convinced of the inferiority of the Aborigines, but that did not justify their extinction. Social Darwinism did.

In a period that witnessed Aborigines being hunted like animals, dying in their thousands through imported diseases, and reportedly murdered at the hands of punitive colonials, the emergence of a law which not only justified the extermination of Aborigines but argued that it was beneficial to the human race, was gratefully accepted and enthusiastically endorsed by many sectors of Australian society.

Popular literature of the nineteenth century depicted an image of the Australian Aborigine that reinforced these colonial ideals. We are to assume that the contemporary reader of the following extract from David Blair’s History of Australasia, when published in 1879, foreshadowed, perhaps demanded, the inevitable extinction:

As a race the aborigine is a savage in the strongest sense of that term.  Alike cruel and treacherous, he loses no occasion of wreaking his vengeance on an enemy, and indulges in the most bloodthirsty propensities. The practice of cannibalism is general among the natives: for a long time this was doubted, but it has been proved, beyond the reach of question, and the practice often found accompanied by the most revolting ferocity – as the sacrifice of an infant by its own mother for the mere pleasure of eating its flesh.

It is arguable that evolution and survival of the fittest, per se, supported the colonial racist ideology of white dominance and the biological inferiority of the dominated (or displaced). The laws of evolution, it was confidently assumed, were not only pushing the Aboriginal race to the brink of extinction, but there was nothing that should, or could be done about it. Such demands, it was debatable, influenced by publications such as Blair’s as well as the dominant ideology, were being called for throughout the latter half of the nineteenth century. In colonial discussions about the Aborigines references to racial struggle and the survival of the fittest became commonplace from the 1860s onwards.

I suggest that a strong correlation can be seen between racist thoughts and the racialist practices that developed. A definite inner-relationship can be drawn between the structure of a contact situation and the ideas and the theories which evolve from, and in turn, serve to strengthen that structure. The violence and rapid population decline, especially focusing on their apparent trend towards extinction in Tasmania, confirmed the emergent ideology of Social Darwinism, proving the inevitable consequences of colonisations . . . Australians were told not to trouble themselves about the disappearance of the Aborigines.

This doctrine conveniently helped justify colonialism and the favourable tenet that Aborigines would eventually disappear under the impact of civilisation and hence supported the ideal of white dominance and the biological inferiority of the dominated. To support this convenient doctrine it became a task to provide evidence as to whether the Aborigine was inferior to the European. This was already known. It was instead to become a task of confirmation. The Australian Aborigine thus became the victim of an intellectual hiatus. During the latter half of the century, it was increasingly to the writing of natural science that Europeans subsequently turned to find the most credible and compelling support for their racist suppositions.

The data that lent themselves most readily were clearly those of biology and natural history. Extended to human affairs, the pervasive spirit of simplicity sought to reproduce for social relations the sort of simple order thought to be inherent in nature.  Hence there was an application of categories of racial classification to human groups on the basis of natural characteristics. This racial ordering also implied a behavioural expectation and that perhaps the major assumption underlying classification was that identification of races in terms of their differentia is adequate to establish the laws of behaviour for their members.

Early applications of this theory were none-too-soon observed in the behaviour of the Aborigines. Behaviour, it was argued, that was driven by primitive instinct and without the habits of forethought or providence.  For example, their instinctive mating habits and the eating of raw meats – to an ethnocentric observer – clearly represented diminished intellectual development. Even the absence of nets or fish-hooks in some coastal Tasmanian societies was taken as an indication that the local Aborigines had not yet evolved to the point were they needed one of the most basic of human foods. Hence terms such as ‘the childhood of humanity’ were liberally and needlessly applied and the evolutionary theory enforced.

At this time, and certainly based on observation, few Europeans in colonial Australia doubted that other races were inferior, but many felt the need to establish some scientific basis for their belief. The evolutionary notions of Aboriginal inferiority were the founded on scientific racism. The most conclusive evidence to support the Aborigines’ low level of intellectual development was thus obtained through scientific proof. Science found a way to satisfy the ideology that primitive intellect was confirmed through recognisable primitive characteristics. One such conclusion was derived through the study of craniology: the examination and measurement of crania.

The crania of the Aborigines supplied fertile ground for evidence of their primitiveness: long heads with a sharp, sloping brow; prominent ridges and heavy bone structure; and significantly, a smaller, lighter (and presumably less complex) brain than that of a European. These structural features were considered ape-like, to which other physical similarities were unduly drawn. Such conclusions served to support the view that the Australian Aborigines were a relic of the oldest type of humankind, or indeed, even living fossils.

The science of phrenology was credited with further advancing consistencies of primitiveness in that the astute European could now – through even more elaborate scientific reasoning – develop a model for character analysis also drawn from cranial properties. Popular in the Australian colonies in the nineteenth century, phrenology was a pseudo-science based on the twin assumptions that specific areas of the brain were responsible for particular moral and intellectual characteristics and that the shape of the skull reflected the inner structure of the brain.

Phrenologists professed to discover an individual’s mental faculties from identifiable peculiarities of skull formation. With racist suppositions the colonial scientists elaborated Aboriginal inferiority based on phrenological evidence. Their prominent bumps or ridges on the skull – as an example – were a signature of depravity or other abstract qualities; and the smallness of their brain (or internal capacity of the skull – as compared with an average European) was the cause of miserable manifestations of mind; and even the mere thickness of the skull alone was a sure indicator of low mental ability, moral character, benevolence and conscientiousness. The conclusion was drawn, that based on the evidence of phrenological interpretation, the Aborigines possessed only a few of the intellectual faculties so evident in white Australians.

The colonisers therefore had no compunction in applying erroneous scientific theories as justification for extermination. Science had confirmed the inevitable: that the Aborigines as primitives faced extinction and every assessment of their situation, every evaluation of policy, took place in the shadow of that certainty.

The relationship between the colonisers and the Aborigines was fundamentally based on the social evolutionary theory. This theory justified European colonialism, summarising that destruction of the weak was the only way to assure success for the strong. Subsequently, government policy making in Australia embraced these racial beliefs. These government policies took on a short-term palliative nature to ‘protect’ Aborigines by isolating them on state regulated reserves away from European contact and abuse in wait of their demise and by removing most of the rights they had enjoyed as citizens. The policies of Protection, Segregation (and Assimilation which was sanctioned in the twentieth century) reflected this ideology.

Protection was influenced by the theory that Aborigines were certain to die out as a result of the European contact. Subsequently, all that could be done for them was to protect them until this inevitable demise, however, nature had not yet selected Aborigines for extinction – only the colonisers had – and the policy of protection underwent a subtle change to Segregation. Their differences are difficult to identify although their purposes are not: Aborigines were a dying race so they were protected from the wider community; the Aboriginal race had failed to die off, so they were segregated from the wider community.

Whilst the Aboriginal race had survived, government policies reflected the attitude that, nonetheless, by the twentieth century they had still failed to progress since European contact. Sentiment thus ruled that continued segregation of the Aborigines from the wider community would ensure white purity. Such practices would not only expedite the demise of the Aborigines, but would hasten the emergence of the Australian national.

The Australian type was believed to be a new product of the multiplying British stock, the race which, in the heyday of British imperialism and legitimated by the now immensely influential ideology of Social Darwinism, saw itself as superior to all other races and therefore possessing the duty and destiny to populate and civilise the rest of the world.

Interest subsequently increased in using evolution theory for justification of a strong state in Australia. It is this racialist concern with a distinctively Australian type that under-girded the White Australia Policy, which was sanctioned by the adoption of the Immigration Restriction Bill in 1901. The Imperialist and racist ideology drew on generations of conquest, slavery and exploitation, and on a whole language of black inferiority and white superiority, bolstered in the nineteenth century by the new sciences. This ideology proved useful and flexible in rationalising the bloody violence, dispossession and incarceration of Aboriginal people, necessary to clear the way for the white nation.

The Darwinist explanations of evolution asserted that given equal competition, the fittest societies would survive and the inferior would die out, and links the attempted and hastened destruction of Aboriginal societies based on this theory. The British, being industrious and capital driven, accepted themselves as superior to the improvident Aborigines and accepted that as racially doomed and undesirable were destined to die out, and provided encouragement to hurry on the inevitable result of colonial contact. Such acts, it could be argued argued, sidestepped issues of morality by assertions that such conflict was beyond the reach of normal moral or social concern, being driven by irresistible forces of species survival. Destruction of the weak was the only way to assure success for the strong.

And from that our racism was born.



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  1. Miglo

    Some of you might remember this article from a couple of years ago. I wanted to re-post it as I consider it a story that needs re-telling.

  2. Iain Hall

    Didn’t you recently re-post this at the Cafe?
    I find it quite significant that you have not got a single response to it here, maybe your erroneous suggestion that all whitefellers are racist now is putting people off.

  3. Jdev83

    Hmmm, perhaps the reason there are no comments yet Iain, is because it’s 9am in the morning on a public holiday…..

    Great article!! I will definitely be showing this to my VCE Year 12 Australian History students! I completely agree, this is such a recent part of our history. It is hard not to see the correlations between our colonial treatment of the Indigenous people and the current relationship between Indigenous and non-indigenous Australians. My students are always very shocked to know what year the Indigenous Australians were finally counted in the census. It is shocking to realise that it was in our very recent past that rights started being given to the original inhabitants of this continent. And this all went back to that powerful belief that the Aboriginal People would ‘just die out anyway’ so there was no point in involving them in the legislation of our new country.

    Many Australians don’t have enough knowledge of our colonial history involving Indigenous Australians. Well done on an article that will hopefully educate some people.

    Oh, and Iain, you wouldn’t be one of those people who starts your sentences with ‘I’m not racist but….’ Would you???

  4. Min

    Iain, where is it said that “all whitefellers are racist”? The topic concerns social Darwinism. I am likewise an historian with an emphasis on the social issues surrounding colonial Australia and it is of great interest to me, the background as to why Europeans had a particular attitude towards so-called primitive races. This is not in itself inherently racist, but a product of one philosophy of the era. Therefore where one might argue that the demise of the Aboriginal people is cruel and barbaric, those who believed in Darwinism found with this an excuse as to why this should not only be permitted but encouraged. The Stolen Generations are proof of this attitude because “they’re goin’ to die out anyway”. I know that it might not be what some might like to know about, instead preferring the Andrew Bolt philosophy that Aboriginal people gain some sort of advantage due to their aboriginality.

    …the only thing “off putting” is your comment and your attempt to denigrate the author.

  5. Min

    jdev, might I say Big Congratulations in providing to your students alternative arguments surrounding Australian History. I mentioned Andrew Bolt and his well-known opinion of “too white to be black”. The thing which enables people such as Bolt to have any credibility whatsoever lies directly with the majority’s almost complete ignorance of the part which Aboriginal peoples play in Australia’s history. Example, many have heard of the mass exterminations and forced marches of Native Americans where tribes such as Cherokee were almost wiped out, but who knows and can name the Australian equivalents? Therefore all efforts to educate we Australians about our own history is to be highly commended.

  6. johnlord2013

    Really enjoyed that. Most enlightening.

  7. Möbius Ecko

    Thanks for the good read Migs, I liked this perspective of the history, and thanks Iain for confirming you’re an ignoramus I can duly continue to ignore.

  8. Miglo

    Iain, I somehow knew you’d find something to criticise.

    You’ll note that I have informed people that it was based on an article I published previously. I am giving it the opportunity for wider readership.

    To everybody else, thank you for your encouraging comments.

  9. Fed up

    Migs, I am glad that you reproduced, this very serious work. It is a shame that some can only see racism. But then, they would have to, would they not, to excuse their own racism.

    As for responses, it was put on late at night, and their is much on your sites to rely to, one would not expect many responses at this time.

    The essay also raises many issues, that take time to digest, think about and make a reply to.

    By the way, how did they mark your essay.

    I, for one, am unwilling to put much faith in the assessment that Hall has made.

    As usual, all he does is criticize, as usual against the author, not the essay.

    No, racism did not begin here. White people bought it with them.

  10. Iain Hall


    And from that our racism was born.

    with a conclusion like this one how can it be read except as an accusation of racism against all whitefellers?

    I think that you are being a very good recycler here and please don’t take may comment as any kind of criticism of your essay.
    That said though it would be most refreshing if we could acknowledge that racism is not a vice that exclusively practised by people of any just one ethnicity.

  11. Iain Hall

    sans typos:

    I think that you are being a very good recycler here and please don’t take my comment as any kind of criticism of your essay.
    That said though it would be most refreshing if we could acknowledge that racism is not a vice that exclusively practised by people of any one ethnicity.

  12. Fed up

    Iain, did yo read the essay. If so, what have your comments got to do with the issues raised.

    Migs, much is made of Darwinism in the essay. Now, I believe that Darwin himself was concerned about how his theory would be used and seen. I bleive he put off publication for this reason. I know his concern was how it conflicted with creationism.

    I know that Darwin himself visited Australia, and I believe Darwin itself. I hope I have this right.

    Did Darwin himself contribute to the de3scription of the plight of our Aboriginals. Did he ever have anything to say about how his theories were being used.

  13. Fed up

    Migs, I believe thee is much in the archives that would warrant recycling. This would show how little much that passes for political debate has changed over time.

    Those on the right, recycle every day, things from the Rudd years.

    It is a shame, they cannot come up with anything new.

    Maybe because this PM has been more successful than they are willing to admit.

    I see very ;little in your essay that can be challenged. It is not about racism, but how the perception we have of aboriginals came about.

    I was bought up in a family that respected Aboriginals, that went out of their way to assist them. My grandmother at the turn of last century, often acted as a mid wife in their community.

    My grandfather, born 1888 went out of his way to help.

    As children we always had one or two working within the home. They sat at the dinner table and were treated as equals. That was not the norm in most homes, especially in Queensland, where I was shocked to see them fed under the trees.

    My mother had many rows with the Aboriginal Protection Board. Mostly on being told how she was to treat them. It appears they wee not capable of being seen as equals.

    Yes, I thought my family were wonderful. As I entered my teens, I realise how paternal my family was.

    I can rememebr my wonderful and fair grandfather, on more than one occasion, saying they needed to be protected, just like children, as one cannot expect much fr5om them. I have a suspicion, thanks to a woman we had in the home, who was very capable, that he was slowly changing that view.

    I see nothing in the essay that does not present the truth. It is those who reject the so called black arm band of the history of our native people who have it wrong.

    No, I or any other today is not responsible for what occurred. We are responsible if the wrongs are not addressed today.

    I am proud of Australian history, warts and all.

    I want to be proud, that we have addressed the wrongs of the past.

    I do not want or need Howard’s rewriting of history.

  14. Fed up

    Many disagree. Many believe, injustice no matter how long ago, needs to be addressed.

  15. Iain Hall

    Yes FU/CU
    I read the essay when it was republished at the Cafe recently and I read it again this morning.
    My comments were about that last line which suggests that “we” meaning whitefellers are racists a result of the application of social Darwinism to the colonial experience.

    To some extent its entirely legitimate to use evolutionary theory to study groups from a single species competing for both living space and resources in a particular territory. Human history is a long litany of one group of people being displaced by another with some technological or social advantage. Where the application of the theory is wrong though is an assumption that those on the losing side must be failing because they are lesser in their humanity. Plainly such claims are self-serving nonsense. There is absolutely no difference between the humanity of indigenous people and the European settlers. Technology and social organisation on the other had was the deciding factor and the reason that. indigenous people lost their dominance over this territory, they were simply unable to exclude the new claimants to the land. But that is then and this is now and its now rather pointless to continue to complain about the loss of their sovereignty over the continent and to take up the opportunities to be fully functioning members of a greater Australian society. Education in English is the key to that engagement and getting over the animosities from the past would be most helpful as well.

  16. araneus1

    I’m exhausted but I got to the end. Good points well brought together.

  17. Iain Hall

    There comes a time when no good purpose is served by worrying about long past “injustices” especially once all of the perpetrators are very long dead. The dead don’t care and the living need to move on to the present and considering the future rather than the past.
    Failing to do this gives us the same endless animosity that so blights the people of the Balkans, do we really want that here?

  18. Fed up

    There comes a time when no good purpose is served by worrying about long past “injustices” especially once all of the perpetrators are very long dead. The dead don’t care and the living need to move on to the present and considering the future rather than the past.”

    It might surprise many, but all the victims are not dead for starters. It is not all ancient history.

    Second, if it is your family and your people, you might not think is time to let it go. The people involved do not seem to think that way.

    Remember the Sorry speech. Those people with tears running down their faces, were some of the victims.

    At the end of the day, that is all that is being asked.

    If this does not happen, the injustices and the harm they cause, will simmer along under the surface, to keep breaking out.

    Then one can move on.

    The injustices occurred up to the second half of last century, until well into the 1960’s and beyond.

    That is not generations ago.

  19. TB Queensland

    300,000 Australian men were called up to serve as national servicemen (there were no women called up) – all white folks* … does anyone care about the disruption to their lives … nup … most of us have moved on … 212 NServicemen and their families couldn’t – they died for Australia … governments/politicians are fkn stupid … live with it …

    * my own platoon in 1970 was unique in that we had an Aborginal … he’d volunteered for National Service ’cause he was an Aussie as did another bloke whose brother was serving in VN!

    At the time I wasn’t Australian, I just lived here (with my wife and daughter) … I was neutralised (sic) four years after my discharge (another silly story of bureaucratic stupidity!

    “We all have our cross to bear” what a crap statement … its usually only the few … the rest just criticise and pontificate …

    Aboriginals have wept enough … 200 fkn years? Get into the real world … I mean … the NITV showed The Chant of Billy Blacksmith a few months ago … dumb or what?

  20. Fed up

    FU/CU Iain, why this address.

    Do you really think no one sees what you are up to. “Fed up” is the correct title. Not sure you will get much respect for the snide abuse you are dishing out..

    I suggest that you stick to “Fed up ” in the future.

    What is wrong with showing respect to others on the site.

    Surely that is not beyond you.

    That is the housekeeping dealt with.

    Of course, you would not agree with any argument I put up.

    I would be concerned if you did.

    Does not make what I say wrong, you know.

    No, that apology is not the end. The end comes when the injustices are addressed.

    Ony a fool would fail to see, the apology as only the beginning.

    The apology cannot be accepted, until the matters raised are address. Then maybe forgiveness can happen.

    Now where did I say, the apology was the end. I believe I said the opposite.

    I was clear im that injustices have to be acknowlwdged and addressed.

    You are correct, we will keep going around in circles, unless the injustices are address,.

    I am not sure how this fits in with you saying, we should just forget and move on.

    One cannot have it both ways.

    What the Balkans, China or Japan have to do with the article and the plight of Aboriginals, I would not know.

    Maybe you should also introduce Ireland, along with the middle east, as well.

    One thing for sure, the problem is not going to disappear, until it has been dealt with.

    Remember I am “Fed up” previously “Catching up”.

  21. Iain Hall


    I really don’t think that your argument renders what I said wrong to be honest, because moving on from events in the past has to start somewhere and having had our Prime Minister give a formal apology for the “injustices” you allude to isn’t it rather lacking in good grace to take that apology as end to the matter. Sadly I fear that we may end up like the Chinese still expecting an endless litany of apologies from the Japanese over the excesses of the second world war even though its been more than sixty years ago and almost none of the people alive now in Japan had anything to do with the war.

  22. pterosaur1

    Thanks for a good, informative read Migs.

    The ideological myth of Social Darwinism lies behind many social (and literal) evils, including racism.

    Although widely regarded as a “perversion” of evolutionary theory and rejected by Darwin, this failed ideology is still current among the RW extremists as they seek to simultaneously “play the victim” and justify their own racism.

    One more example of their collective denial of reality.

  23. Iain Hall

    Fed up

    Of course, you would not agree with any argument I put up.

    Not necessarily so if you make an argument that I agree with but please do me the favour of not suggesting that I disagree with you without due consideration

    No, that apology is not the end. The end comes when the injustices are addressed.

    Only a fool would fail to see, the apology as only the beginning.

    The apology cannot be accepted, until the matters raised are address. Then maybe forgiveness can happen.

    Now where did I say, the apology was the end. I believe I said the opposite.

    I was clear im that injustices have to be acknowledged and addressed.

    You are correct, we will keep going around in circles, unless the injustices are address,.

    I am not sure how this fits in with you saying, we should just forget and move on.

    One cannot have it both ways.

    With respect that is utter nonsense.The whole point of formal apologises is to draw a line in the sand and allow the events of the past and any unresolved animosities to be dissipated, an apology is addressing the injustices and if that apology is accepted, as Rudd’s has been, then the matter is settled, done and no more can it validly be cited as a reason for continued animosity.

    What the Balkans, China or Japan have to do with the article and the plight of Aboriginals, I would not know.

    Maybe you should also introduce Ireland, along with the middle east, as well.

    One thing for sure, the problem is not going to disappear, until it has been dealt with.

    In all of may examples we have instances where past animosities have led to a culture of eternal hatred and in particular with my China/Japan example we have one nation demanding repeated acts of contrition from another and no matter how many times Japan apologises for the excesses and cruelties of WW2 it is never enough. With attitudes like yours we face a similar prospect of eternal demands for endless unproductive contrition.

    Finally addressing the social problems in far to many indigenous communities is really another issue entirely and to a very large extent the impetus has to come form within the culture itself and when it comes down to it not moving on from the past as you seem to be endorsing and supporting will waste both the good will that was created by Rudd’s apology and the opportunity to (dare I say it?) move forward to a better future rather than obsessing about a dysfunctional past.

  24. Fed up

    Sorry, making an apology does not mean the end at any time. With that apology, comes the duty to make amends. This is even true in the confessional.

    One gives the apology has the duty to make amends.

    It is up to the recipient as to whether they accept that apology.

    The one who apologises, has to convince the other, that they are really sorry.

    Not addressing the wrongs, makes the apology worthless, and is an insult to those it is aimed at.

    I can see no argument in my view.

    Thanks for using Fed up. I appreciate that. Now, I do not have to change it again.

  25. Iain Hall

    Fed up

    Sorry, making an apology does not mean the end at any time. With that apology, comes the duty to make amends. This is even true in the confessional.

    No When you make a very fulsome public apology with much pomp and ceremony it is an act of contrition in itself and as such it functions quite a different way to a confession which is private and secret.

    One gives the apology has the duty to make amends.

    Are you talking about giving money, goods or services? Because the federal and state governments have been pouring millions of dollars into indigenous welfare for longer than I have been in this country, at what point do you think such efforts will ever be enough?

    It is up to the recipient as to whether they accept that apology.

    And they have done precisely that already.

    The one who apologises, has to convince the other, that they are really sorry.

    No if the apology is sincere, as I believe Rudd was it is beholden upon those being apologised to accept it with good grace and not to “move the goal posts” by demanding more.

    Not addressing the wrongs, makes the apology worthless, and is an insult to those it is aimed at.

    Any accepted apology is a contract between two parties not to revive animosities over the issue at hand its not a stating point of a negotiation nor is it an ambit claim its the fulfilment of a resolution to the issue.

    Thanks for using Fed up. I appreciate that. Now, I do not have to change it again.

    When treated with civility I have no problem addressing anyone in their desired manner and as you have had the good grace to cease your previous animosity to my being here can I suggest that we each try to be nicer to the other even though we disagree on most aspects of politics?

  26. Jdev83

    An apology was definitely not the end, it was the beginning, showing that the government and the Australian people recognise that atrocities took place and that the government and Australian people apologise for such atrocities. At the end of the day, however, this is just a gesture, and words only mean something if actions follow. The formal apology has been made and now it is time to start acting to close the gap between Indigenous and non Indigenous Australians.

    An apology does not address the fact that Indigenous Australians have a life expectancy of around 20 years less than non Indigenous Australians

    An apology does not address the fact that Indigenous Australians have a child mortality rate of around three times the rate of non Indigenous Australians

    Indigenous Australians are over represented in prisons and under represented in universities.

    These statistics stem from our recent past treatment of Indigenous Australians. (And yes, I do consider our colonial past a recent past. But as Fed Up mentioned, these atrocities continued well into the late 20th Century.) These statistics are unacceptable in a developed nation like Australia.

    It is time to move past words and start acting to improve conditions, health and education for Indigenous Australians

  27. Chris H

    I decided not to read all of it in detail when I read the first line after “here goes”. Shouldn’t have come to a conclusion in the first instance and then pick facts to back it up. History is a lot broader than that simple statement.
    Also – the White Australia policy I bet did not come from the belief whites are superior, but came from them wanting to keep European cultural heritage in our country because of our physical closeness to Asia. However we became a wonderful multicultural society and fears of people not being assimilated into the culturally Western society were unfounded.

  28. mindmadeup

    Reblogged this on you said it….

  29. Fed up

    Sorry, the native people were seen as inferior, less than human. It is well documented. Where counted with live stock, that is sheep, cattle and pigs.

    In fact the land was deemed to be unpopulated.

  30. Clairsplurz

    Very Interesting article thank you for reposting… and important points raised since ( Fed Up and JDev83).

  31. Vince

    I’m sorry, but how does an apology put an “end” to the animosities against and pain suffered by Aboriginal peoples? I hope you understand that apologising doesn’t actually DO anything, saying sorry does not provide complete closure, nor does it fix the under-representation of Aboriginal people. Indigenous peoples are still not fully recognised in the Constitution, and there still exists blatant injustice at the hand of the Government and the public. Apologising doesn’t instantly make Aboriginal people accepted in society, and it doesn’t pull the large amount of indigenous people out of poverty.

    You say the apology was “accepted”, even though there’s a very large amount of Aboriginal people didn’t accept it at all (there was heaps of media published after “Sorry Day” full of people claiming the apology to be inadequate). Just because a number of people accept an apology, doesn’t mean _everyone_ the apology was directed at has forgiven. You say that it’s “finished”, but who speaks for _every_ indigenous person? Who can forgive people on the behalf of others? (hint: no one)

    Federal and State government are still to this very day half-assing the issue of Aboriginal rights and reconciliation, it’s obvious that Aboriginal culture and the problems that have been inflicted upon them are still being largely ignored. Treating indigenous people as equal and providing them with the same opportunity and basic quality of life as everyone else is not just a task that should only focus on the minority itself; public attitudes need to change, the history needs to be understood, everyone needs to be educated and discrimination needs to be shunned.

    Throwing money at a minority doesn’t put an end to racism, it doesn’t provide them with basic freedoms and it doesn’t teach people to be independent. The welfare system certainly is a good thing, it gives people opportunity to become self-sustaining (not just to indigenous people), but it can easily be perceived as purposefully shelving or not actually addressing the larger societal issues at play.

    The events that took place in Australia’s history should never be forgotten, like you claim an apology to do. If history is forgotten, it will only repeat itself. When it comes to healing the wounds that have been inflicted upon multiple generations of indigenous people, an apology is a good place to start, but is indeed just the beginning.

  32. Vince

    “Claim” wasn’t the right word in that last paragraph, sorry. Apologies don’t resolve issues entirely, injustice is only eliminated through justice. We have a duty as a nation to rebuild and treasure the lives and culture of indigenous peoples, simply saying “sorry” and placing a welfare band-aid on the issue is hardly justice.

  33. Vince


  34. Chris H

    @Fed up I wasn’t saying that wasn’t the case (and I was talking about immigration). It’s just that immigration policy had other motives, not just a ‘superority’ motive. It was to allow our population to grow after the war ‘populate or perish’ and given the huge Asian poulations near us it was preferred European heritage/culture/(yes, race) remaining predominant in Australia. Yes it’s racist, whatever, but I think this article draws the wrong conclusions about motives involved.

  35. _YellowStar_

    Get over the past, and move on with YOUR future. We’re all better off today than our ancestors were yesterday. I’m aboriginal, and I believe everyone should do what’s best for themselves and their futures than dwelling on a past that is not existent anymore.

  36. Michael Taylor

    It’s rather ironic that someone comments on an article that’s over three and a half years old and tells me to … move on.

  37. Freethinker

    It is a big mistake and not much respect for the previous generations to get over the past. If we are now something it is because our ancestors and the future generations also will benefit from the present generation.
    No, we cannot forget the past, we have to learn from it.

  38. Michael Taylor

    YellowStar, who’s your mob, by the way?

  39. Maria

    Very informative. I am not Australian. But I recently had to explain my 8 year old what the word aborigine means and why white people is not aborigine to America or Australia. I also had to explain him about equality and how people that think there is a superior race are wrong. He asked me why some people think this way and of course now I have a clear explanation. Thanks so much!

  40. Maria

    Yellow star, there is still to much inequality and injustice with aborigine people around the World. I suggest you do some research about it. The attitude of: “me for myself” is exactly a big part of the problem. Until we don’t reach equality for ALL, some of us choose to do something about it, at least understand why it happened, create awareness, you know, stupid stuff like that. If you choose to ignore reality and be part of the problem that is up to you. Dont waste your time telling us to move on and be like you please, I will never be like you. I have empathy. Good luck.

  41. Hellen

    Action speaks louder than words. White people in Australia the way you treats Aboriginals will show them that you’re truly sorry for what happened in the past.

  42. Terri

    Just ran across this article, and as a person of indegnous/aborigine decent, this mindset of “they are just going to die off anyway” is pretty shallow given the fact that sophisticated measures were and still are taken to try and “get rid” of indigenous populations world wide. Some examples are: trying to bred us away, secluding us to harmful environments in “ghettos” on the outskirts of the majority “white” populations, social and financial systems set up in place for our detriment, negative portrayal of us in media. (Think poster child and needing to be rescued from our “depraved” state of being and are seen as dangerous/cannibals who are “wild animals”) and a host of many other tactics. We still lack basic rights as living breathing creatures on Earth because in reality, we Indigenous/aborigine people have less rights than an endangered species of animal. Am I not angry or mad at our predicament because I have moved beyond having an emotional reaction. It’s more about what I will do to survive in society as an indegnous/aborigine and keep our culture alive and well for the sake of Mother Earth. This is an old article and I am not a fan of euphemism but I just had to read this out of curiosity. Good day.

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