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Michael recently retired from the Public Service and is studying law in his retirement. His interests are politics, media, history, and astronomy. Michael holds a BA in Aboriginal Affairs Administration, a BA (Honours) in Aboriginal Studies, and a Diploma of Government. Michael rarely writes articles for The AIMN these days, but is heavily involved with the admin team.


We have failed the First Nations people

These words by Scott Bennett in his book White Politics and Black Australians have always resonated with me:

“The aspirations of Aboriginal Australians are expressed through a political system designed, first and foremost, for the white majority.”

In my many years employed in Indigenous affairs – and as a student of Indigenous history – it was a theme that dominated my public and academic life.

It is a theme that haunts us all:

“Australian history has left a legacy of Aboriginal inequality and disadvantage. In our self-congratulatory celebration of egalitarianism and the fair go, we conveniently overlooked that fact that our treatment of Aborigines amounted to a contradiction of the very values we claimed to espouse.”

The inability to regard Aborigines as equals has never really left the ‘white’ consciousness.

“There are a number of measures,” argues Bennett, “that can be used to establish the degree of inegalitarian treatment accorded” to Aborigines: legal equality; political equality; economic equality; equality of opportunity; and equal satisfaction of basic needs. I could broach social injustice, government ineptness and bureaucratic mis-management in emphasising these inequalities. Bennett recognises that:

“There are many disadvantages suffered by Aborigines that need remedying, but what needs to be dealt with, and in what order? Is it inadequate housing? Is it the parlous state of Aboriginal health which still results in unacceptably high infant mortality rates as well as a diminished life expectancy? Is it the rapid loss of Aboriginal culture? Or the high rate of Aboriginal unemployment? Undoubtedly the problem is complex, but where do governments start to seek remedies? What are the political solutions?”

History illustrates government inability above all else to deliver any remedies, due mainly to the makings of the Australian polity. Federalism stands out, and in particular the complex space that Aboriginal affairs occupies within our political system. In a federation like Australia it can be very difficult to achieve uniformity of power. Why cannot governments that perceive the existence of a regional or national problem, for example Aboriginal health, work constructively to eradicate the problem? Who is to be blamed, Commonwealth or State?

Aboriginal affairs involves many areas of governmental responsibility, including education, health, sanitation, land use and relations with police forces, which are all State government responsibilities. “When Commonwealth and State governments disagree in such matters, whose view should prevail?” A great deal of essential service delivery falls within the responsibility of State governments, but these governments often fall short of delivering full and satisfactory programs.

However, the argument goes much further than being based on pure politics. In Australia’s polity:

“… where the development of the land by both farmer and miner has for so long been described as basic to Australia’s prosperity, it is difficult for governments to ignore claims from such powerful interests.

The mining interest has fought particularly strongly against land rights and native title. The propaganda battle is rarely won by the central government. It is easier for a State Premier to claim that the Native Title Act threatens peoples’ backyards than it is for the Commonwealth to explain the complexities of the legislation.”

This is but one of the many shortcomings if we focus on program failure or distortion, for it is in these results that many hopes and expectations are deflected, destroyed or frustrated. An analysis of service delivery reveals that the problem is multi-faceted, not only having to do with the nature of modern bureaucracies, but also with the activities of politicians, the attitudes of white Australians, and the perceptions of Aborigines themselves.

In this arena of political and public perceptions, the now defunct Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) used to come under some heavy fire; from politicians, the media, and the wider community. Perhaps there was resentment because ATSIC had given Aboriginal people a voice in the political system.

The argument on this was compelling. Many Australians watched distrustfully as, under Whitlam’s grandiosity in 1972, large amounts of money were directed to Aboriginal affairs. As a result, there was a great deal of importance placed on the need for ATSIC, in particular, to be accountable for its operations, reflecting no doubt the uncertainties of mainstream Australians concerning the standards of operations of Indigenous institutions. Following accusations of the misuse of money, audits were made of various bodies, again nominally ATSIC, and government funds for many Aboriginal services were reduced, and eventually, ATSIC was wiped from the political and social landscape. Yet claims about ATSIC’s waste of public money usually ignored the difficulties that that body had in delivering any worthwhile services to the Indigenous community. ATSIC had an unbelievable array of demands on its finite budget and was simply not in a position to meet every demand.

Also, political parties are demonstrably divided on Aboriginal issues. The Howard Government, for example, was less sympathetic to Aboriginal issues – or “too cautious in the invocation of Commonwealth power for the benefit of Aborigines” – than were the previous Labor Governments of Hawke and Keating and Labor Governments since. (It was forcefully argued that Howard was indeed influenced by the claims of the more powerful interest groups). Political parties’ views:

“… are extremely important in helping explain the place of Aboriginal people in the Australian political system.”

Some of the differences between Labor and the Coalition have been imposing. Consider them as a backdrop to discussions on issues such as Mabo, Wik, Native Title, the Stolen Generation, the Northern Territory Intervention, Closing the Gap, the Uluru Statement from the Heart, and now the Indigenous Voice to Parliament.

I could attack the media with as much veracity as I do the political interests. Press coverage should help ensure that the area of public policy is kept well and truly on the political agenda, for without it would be very difficult for Aboriginal interests to achieve anything of importance. Perhaps the best example has been the manner in which the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody disappeared from sight once the report became public. Such a lack of sustained coverage makes it easier for governments to ignore many matters of short-term notoriety. The desire for a story often overrides considerations of accuracy or fairness. Who could argue with this? Drunkenness, rioting and poor living conditions are given more attention than the stories that could show Aborigines playing a positive role in the general community.

For well over 200 years we have failed the First Nations people. Let’s not fail them again.

May I suggest the Indigenous Voice to Parliament would be a good start.


White Politics and Black Australians, Scott Bennett, 1999.

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The sad truth

Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price’s comment that:

… she did not believe there are any ongoing impacts of colonisation, but in some cases, a “positive impact”.

… begs to be disputed. There is zero positivity in the planned extermination of the world’s oldest culture. But that was the plan.

However, in fairness to Senator Price she, as with most Australians, is most likely unaware of the extent of the cruelty and intent administered by governments against the First Nations people for over 200 years.

Let’s look at the evidence as proven by historical events.

* * * * *

The video of Lang Hancock’s disgusting proposal to what he believed was the “Aboriginal problem” is again, thanks to Senator Price, doing the rounds on social media. Hancock suggested that by doping their drinking water – that caused sterilisation – was one simply way to ensure the extinction of the race.

Anyone seeing this video for the first time will be shocked, even angered. And rightly so. Even more shocking is that Hancock’s sinister idea was not dissimilar to government policies that ran their course not a generation earlier.

In a younger Australia there was an agenda in both the colonial and early federal governments; that being the extermination of Aborigines. Not only was it the will of ‘man’ that the Aborigines be exterminated, but also the will of God. Or so they believed.

Was the total extermination of Australia’s Indigenous people deliberately intended? Of course it was. It was OK to shoot Aborigines. God – they presumed – had no problems with good white Christians killing Aborigines as it was the white man’s belief that God had condemned Aborigines to extinction and the white man was simply hurrying things along for Him. It had His stamp of approval. It was ordained genocide.

But the massacre of Aboriginals was frowned upon by latter governments, however, it did not mean that they were not considered a doomed race. These governments had a sinister role to play in that consideration; that of the evolutionary masters. That of God.

Let us trace this.

The nineteenth European scientific discourse of the Great Chain of Being “arranged all living things in a hierarchy, beginning with the simplest creatures, ascending through the primates” and to humans. It was also practice to distinguish between different types of humans. Through the hierarchical chain the various human types could be ranked in order of intellect and active powers. The Europeans – being God-fearing and intelligent – were invariably placed on the top, whilst the Aborigines – as perceived savages – occupied the lowest scale of humanity, slightly above the position held by the apes. Such ideas were carried to and widely circulated in the Australian colonies and helped shape attitudes towards Aboriginals. So dominant was the concept that it helped develop the fate of Aboriginal people, even before Australia’s colonisation. The image of the Aborigine simply confirmed prejudices based on this doctrine of evolutionary difference and intellectual inferiority.

In harmony with the Great Chain of Being, the “theory of evolution in the social sciences” (known as Social Darwinism), was accepted by nineteenth and early twentieth century Australians as further justification for their treatment of the Aboriginals. Central to the theory of Social Darwinism was the ideology that the Aborigines, who were considered to be less-evolved, faced extinction under the impact of European colonisation and nothing could, or should, be done about it. Government policies reflected these ideologies and provided the validation of oppressive practices towards the Aborigines, founded on the perceptions of racial superiority.

Four of the major policies are those relating to protection; segregation; assimilation; and the integration of Aboriginal people into the wider community.

Protection was influenced by the evolutionary theory that Aborigines would die out as a result of European contact. Subsequently, all that could be done was to feed and protect them until their unavoidable demise. The policy thus took on short-term palliative measures that saw enforced concentration of Aboriginals in reserves and missions – protected from European contact and abuse (such as hunting parties) to await “their closing hour.”

This policy was a humane one based on its presumptions, however, nature had not selected Aboriginals for extinction. Only the colonisers had. Subsequently, governments eventually and willingly used protection policies as a mechanism for social engineering. The policies of protection changed its fundamental goal to segregation. Their differences are difficult to identify although their purposes are not: the Aboriginals belonged to 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.

The social theories that legitimised and institutionalised racism were never more evident than in the practices of segregation. Segregation created two social and political worlds in Australia: one white and one black. Whilst the Aboriginal race had ignored extinction, government policies reflected the attitude that, nonetheless, by the 1940s 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 racial purity” (source unknown).

Segregation was pervasive in all aspects of public or political life. Church or social organisations discouraged Aboriginal participation, and access to community facilities such as swimming pools or theatres were severely restricted, if not refused altogether. Custom in many business establishments was also refused for fear of offending the white clientele. Perhaps the most damning indicator of this racism, however, was the neglect of medical treatment and health services by white practitioners. Policies of segregation were to degenerate into practises of apartheid when, in South Australia for example, association between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people became a criminal offence under Section 14 of the Police Offences Act 1953.

The policies of protection and segregation were continued even though the Aborigines had not faced their final hour. ‘Full-bloods’ remained on reserves until their demise, yet the problem for the government came in the form of the ‘half-caste’. These people looked increasingly like white people but behaved like ‘Black’ people. The only way this could be countered was to assimilate them into the general population.

Assimilation of the lighter-caste population was still an endeavour to destroy Aboriginality: by absorbing them into the wider community – the breeding out of the colour, “the process of genetic change” – it was hoped that they would eventually disappear. A radical suggestion that selective mating would breed out the colour was also proposed.

Of the endless record of horrors associated with colonisation and racial supremacy, some of the assimilation policies adopted in the 1950s equal the worst. In particular the taking of children away from their families by the Aboriginal Protection Board – as their legal guardians – and disposing of them as they saw fit. As a prelude to the Reconciliation Convention, the Government reflected on this practice:

Children were taken away under government policies of protection and assimilation aimed at having indigenous people adopt European culture and behaviour to the exclusion of their family and background. The assimilation policy presumed that, over time, indigenous people would die out or be so mixed with the European population they became indistinguishable (The Path to Reconciliation, 1997, p 24).

Yes, I would argue that the total extermination of Australia’s Indigenous people was deliberately intended. If not by the bullet, then by the policies of those governments that saw them as a stain on white purity. God favoured the white man and they set out to do His work.

Summary: The sad truth

The Great Chain of Being, along with Spencer’s evolutionary theory had considerable influence on social thinking in nineteenth century Australia. This influence was to impact upon the Aborigines who, in theory, were destined to die out having now encountered a more superior race. ‘Their passing was graphic proof of evolution itself.’ (Reynolds, 1987:125). This led to their dispossession and disadvantage, which under the philosophy of natural law were considered justifiable acts.

Government policies towards Aborigines were a measure of, in particular, Spencer’s influence. Convinced that the Aboriginal race would die out, the government pursued a policy that protected them from the wider community while they awaited their inevitable demise. This policy, in essence, continued under the guise of segregation when it became clear that their numbers were increasing. Segregation created many racial divisions in Australia’s social and political life.

An increasing number of ‘mixed-bloods’ in the community threatened white purity, and the policy of assimilation was therefore an endeavour to breed out Aboriginality. One of the practices was to remove children from their families and culture, presuming that over a period of time they would become indistinguishable with the wider European population.


Beckett, J. (1988). editor Aborigines and the state in Australia. The University of Adelaide, South Australia.

Broome, R. (1994). Aboriginal Australians. 2nd edition, Allen and Unwin, St Leonards, NSW.

Critchett, J. (1990). A ‘distant field of murder’: western district frontiers 1834-1848. Melbourne University Press, Carlton.

Duguid, C. (1973). Doctor and the Aborigines. Rigby Limited, Adelaide.

Evans, R; Saunders, K; and Cronin, K. (1993). Race relations in colonial Queensland: a history of exclusion. University of Queensland, St Lucia.

Evans, R; Moore, C; Saunders, K; and Jamison, B. (1997) editors 1901 our future’s past; documenting Australia’s federation, Pan Macmillan, Sydney.

Goodwin, C. (1964). ‘Evolution theory in Australian social thought’ in Journal of the history of ideas, volume 25, pages 393-416.

Hunter, R; Ingleby, R; and Johnstone, R. (1995). editors Thinking about law: perspectives on the history, philosophy and sociology of law. Allen And Unwin, St Leonards, NSW.

Kearney, G. (1973). editor The psychology of Aboriginal Australians. John Wiley and Sons, Sydney.

Kingston, B. (1988). The Oxford history of Australia volume 3: glad, confident morning 1860-1900. Oxford University Press, Melbourne.

Kociumbas, J. (1992). The Oxford history of Australia volume 2: possessions 1770-1860. Oxford University Press, Melbourne.

McConnochie, K; Hollinsworth, D; and Pettman, J. (1993). Race and racism in Australia. Social Science Press, Australia.

McGrath, A. (1995). editor Contested ground: Australian Aborigines under the British crown. Allen and Unwin, St Leonards.

Reay, M. (1964). editor Aborigines now. Angus and Robertson, Sydney.

Reynolds, H. (1987). Frontier: Aborigines, settlers and land. Allen and Unwin, Sydney.

The path to reconciliation. (1997). Commonwealth of Australia booklet, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra.


A shorter version of this article was originally published in 2020 as They’re going to die out anyway. Senator Price’s comment warranted re-publication.


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I’m doing it for Jake

It had been a long, hot day by the time Jake and I arrived at a far north SA town where we were to stay overnight before heading home the following morning.

Unpacked and cleaned-up we did what most blokes in an outback town do after a long, hot day: we headed for one of the town’s two pubs.

In we walked, heading straight to the bar I couldn’t help but notice that all eyes were on us.

“I wonder why everyone’s looking at us,” I whispered to Jake.

“Think about it,” he replied. “You’re a white fella walking in with a black fella.”

Jake, as you’ve guessed, is Aboriginal.

Our cool reception nonetheless disturbed me. Jake was a talented footballer and cricketer who back home was held in high esteem. Jake couldn’t walk down the street without people wanting to chat to him about last week’s game. This was the exact opposite.

Back to the story…

After a drink and a meal, we headed off to the other pub in town – a new place – where we’d planned to catch up with workmates who were also passing through.

And what a much nicer place it was… until we left to head back to our motel.

Walking through the reception area we saw a young Aboriginal girl being abused by three drunk, young white blokes. Their language and insults were disgusting.

”You’re nothing but a half-caste bitch.”

”You’re probably a slut.”

”People like you are better dead.”

And on it went. It was vile.

The girl, as you would imagine, was distressed and in tears.

Then one of the blokes saw Jake watching the proceedings, walked over, stood in his face, and shouted, “What the fuck are you staring at, ya boong?”

I squeezed in between them, stared at the other bloke, and came out with something passive, “Hey, lay off him. How about we get out of here and go our seperate ways?”

And off we all went. Jake and I headed to our motel while I assume the aggressors went to the other pub to continue with more mayhem.

At 2am I was awoken by a knock on my door. It was Jake. He was crying.

”What the hell’s the matter?” I asked.

His answer floored me: “I’ve never had a white fella stick up for me before.”

(Damn near brought a tear to my eye, too.)

To me, it was just an incident. To Jake it was something stronger. My one small action seemed to help to right a lifetime of wrongs.

So I’m voting Yes for Jake. And the tens of thousands like him.


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Indigenous disadvantage tells us much about our history

Long title: What do major issues that impact on Aboriginal people in contemporary Australian society tell us about our history?

It is difficult to isolate any of these issues. Each issue weaves into another: identity; health; housing; education; self-determination; recognition of sovereignty; gender issues; custodial issues and racism can all be connected. For example, discussions on identity can be traced to forced removal (through pastoral expansion or the policy of assimilation) which in turn can be traced to racism. Discussions on health lead to housing, which can also be traced to racism. Black deaths in custody is one of the major concerns in custodial issues, again, racism is a key element. Land rights are an issue linked to self-determination and recognition of sovereignty. Denial of these is also racist.

It is evident that the first European colonisers in Australia declared their belief in white supremacy, and this declaration is unchanged by the majority of white Australians today (1). Over the last two hundred years this attitude has been lodged into our history.

To many Aborigines their identity has been shrouded due to the forced removal from their lands, or the forced removal from their families. This alienation from the land disrupted ceremonial life and eroded Aboriginal identity.

Children were removed from their families as governments pursued a policy of assimilation, cast in the hope that Aboriginal children would assimilate into European culture. However, these children – now as adults – remain unsure about their own identity though wanting to return to their Aboriginal families.

Aboriginal people suffer from many disadvantages in our society, and the most damning indicator of the disadvantages is their rate of illness and shorter life expectancy. Statistics provide the evidence: The mortality rate of Aboriginal babies is three times that of other Australian babies; Aboriginal mothers are up to five times more likely to die during childbirth; and life expectancy is up to 12 years less than other Australians.

Poor health correlates with poor housing, and the living conditions of many Aborigines reflects their status in Australian society and their low-income potential (2). Their resultant segregation provides limited access to facilities such as sewerage, rubbish removal, or clean water. The health and housing conditions of Aborigines are a result of their marginalisation in society.

Elements of racism are also accountable for the low education standards attained by Aboriginal people (3). Statistically, it could be argued that Aborigines do not consider education to be important (4). The statistics summarise that their achievements in literacy and numeracy are substantially below average levels, as is their participation rates in compulsory schooling. The argument for the racist element, however, is stronger. It is questionable whether the education system is catering for the needs of Aboriginal people. The education system inhibits Aboriginal learning styles with Aboriginal values being replaced with our own values, and our way of understanding and doing things. This in itself assumes that our culture is superior and Aboriginal children are conditioned into accepting the culture of the dominant white society.

The rights to maintain self-determination have been denied to the Aboriginal people since white colonisation; itself an act of discrimination that places Aborigines in a subordinate position in Australia today (5). The denial of self-determination, which is a denial of a people to identify with their own history and the perpetuation of their culture bears a strong connection to the reasons behind a lack of identity.

The attitudes of discrimination rife in Australian society have left their scars on the matriarchs of the Aboriginal people: Women are also victims of chauvinism as well as being placed in the lowest status positions (6). This contributes to a lack of awareness of how dispossession, racist practices, incarceration and violence have fragmented their position in society (7).

The statistics on custodial issues reveal further imbalances: Young indigenous people are eighteen times more likely to be held in detention than other Australian youths (8). The imprisonment rate of Aborigines is the highest in the world, leading to a conclusion that Indigenous people face discrimination within the legal system.

More telling however, is that over-representation is shadowed by a more disturbing statistic in the issue: Aborigines are dying in custody. No suitable reason can be found to explain the deaths. It is at the grass roots level that prevention should be focused. In the 1980s, 67% of Aborigines taken into custody were jailed as a result of alcohol-related detentions (9). The Commissioner of the inquiry into Black Deaths in Custody reported the abolition of the offence of drunkenness should reduce our prison populations without threat to public safety. This advice has been all but ignored.

But the issue still needs further examination. Forty-three per cent of Aborigines who died in custody had, as children, been forcibly removed from their families under the policy of assimilation, and only 1% had finished their formal schooling (10). It is relevant to ask: Is Australia’s past treatment of Aborigines central to their current rates of arrest and imprisonment? (11)

All Aboriginal people suffer in every aspect of their lives from racism. The denial of self-determination is racist (12). Racism is evident in the education system, the legal system and the political structures of Australian society (13). It exists at the legislative and bureaucratic levels and weaves down into public opinion. Aboriginal people have had to contend with the European attitude of white supremacy. These issues are all bound together with racism (14).

These major issues indicate that a history of racist views and policies began in Australia in 1788 and still manifests society today. History books account of the struggles of Europeans to claim this continent as their own, whereas a curtain of silence has shielded generations of students from recognising how European expansion swept away the land rights of the original inhabitants.

In the advancing colonisation the Aboriginal people were conveniently treated as part of the country’s past. ‘History,’ proclaimed an old university lecturer of mine, ‘treated Aboriginal people as little more than impediments standing briefly in the way of inevitable white progress across the nation’ (15).

So I ask, what do major issues that impact on Aboriginal people in contemporary Australian society tell us about our history? And do they, perhaps, explain the strong showing the No vote (for the Indigenous Voice to Parliament) is gathering?


(1) The Path to Reconciliation (1997), Commonwealth of Australia booklet, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra.

(2) Tarrago, I. (1992), ‘Aboriginal families’ in National family summit report, Batchler-Wheeler Associates for Capital Reporting, Parliament House, Canberra, pp 63-71.

(3) The Path to Reconciliation (1997), Commonwealth of Australia booklet, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra.

(4) Tarrago, I. (1992), ‘Aboriginal families’ in National family summit report, Batchler-Wheeler Associates for Capital Reporting, Parliament House, Canberra, pp 63-71.

(5) Bird, G; Martin, G; and Nielsen, J.(1996), editors Majah: indigenous peoples and the law, The Federation Press, NSW.

(6) O’Shane, P. (1993), ‘Aboriginal women and the women’s movement’ in Refracting voices, feminist perspectives, Southward Press, NSW.

(7) Miller, L. (1993), ‘The women’s movement and Aboriginal women’ in Refracting voices, feminist perspectives, Southward Press, NSW.

(8) The Path to Reconciliation (1997), Commonwealth of Australia booklet, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra.

(9) Lippmann, L. (1994), Generations of resistance, 3rd edition, Longman Australia, Melbourne.

(10) The Path to Reconciliation (1997), Commonwealth of Australia booklet, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra.

(11) O’Shane, P. (1993), ‘Aboriginal women and the women’s movement’ in Refracting voices, feminist perspectives, Southward Press, NSW.

(12) Bird, G; Martin, G; and Nielsen, J.(1996), editors Majah: indigenous peoples and the law, The Federation Press, NSW.

(13) O’Shane, P. (1993), ‘Aboriginal women and the women’s movement’ in Refracting voices, feminist perspectives, Southward Press, NSW.

(14) McGrath, A. (1993), Women and state, LaTrobe University Press, Bundoora.

(15) Edwards, W.H. (1988), An introduction to Aboriginal societies, Social Science Press, Wentworth Falls, NSW.


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The Murdoch Media Inquiry Bill 2023: Have your say

The AIMN received an email yesterday from the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee. Though address to the site owners, it’s fair to guess it was sent to all at The AIMN, including our readers.

Here is the email:

Inquiry into the Murdoch Media Inquiry Bill 2023

On 11 May 2023, the Senate referred the Murdoch Media Inquiry Bill 2023, upon introduction, to the Environment and Communications Legislation Committee for inquiry and report by 12 December 2023. The bill was introduced on 13 June 2023.

Information regarding the bill can be found at the committee’s website under ‘Current Inquiries’. The committee invites your organisation to make a submission to this inquiry. Submissions are due by 31 August 2023.

The committee encourages the lodgement of submissions in electronic form and it is possible to lodge a submission through the committee’s website. Alternatively submissions can be lodged via email to All submissions should include the author’s full name, phone number and postal address on a separate covering letter.

Please note that a submission becomes a committee document, and must not be disclosed to any other person until it has been accepted by the committee. Unless you have requested that your submission remain confidential, it will be published on the committee’s website after the committee has examined and accepted it, and authorised its publication. Once a committee has authorised the release of a submission, subsequent publication is protected by parliamentary privilege.

I reckon we all have something we’d like to add.

Due to confidentiality – as noted in the email – please do not leave your suggestions in our comments section or they cannot be included in the submission. Please email them to us at

Put those thinking caps on!


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A Digger’s Words

I was a few years old when my family moved to Kangaroo Island as soldiers settlers, first to the Parndana “Camp” for two years before moving to our farm. By memory up to 50 families lived in the camp at any one time, and by the mid 1960s most of the farmers on the island were returned WW2 servicemen.

We buried one of the old diggers last Saturday. Only two remain alive.

None of the diggers would talk much about the war, but I am sure there were thousands of unwritten stories, now forever lost. So when a digger talks, I am the first to listen. Their words aren’t lost on me.

And so it is with Brigadier George Mansford (retired), who gave the ANZAC address in Cairns this year. I have kindly been given permission to republish his talk, as well as present two poems by Mr Mansfield.

They are indeed, a digger’s words.

ANZAC address 2023: Saint Mary’s College, Cairns

Australia, in the 50s was alarmed at the spread of communism in our region.

North Korea had invaded South Korea. Malaya, as it was in 1948, a British Colony, was under threat by increasing insurgent attacks from established bases in its vast jungles. Alarms bells were still ringing when Communist Forces defeated the French Army in Indo China and as a result, Vietnam was split into North and South with an already growing infrastructure of communist insurgency in an infant democratic South Vietnam.

In Australia, its small military contingency to Korea had no sooner commenced its return to Australia when we were committed to assist in troubled Malaya and soon after, South Vietnam as well. Then arrived a further commitment to counter Indonesian confrontation in Borneo. Thus with such threats in our region, and an over committed small Armed Forces, conscription by ballot for two years’ service including overseas service was introduced in 1965.

I was there in Enoggera Barracks, Brisbane, when the first Conscripts became the nucleus of a new infantry battalion, It was certainly not an easy Unit task to be ready to fight in such a short time frame, however our young soldiers, both regular and conscripts were magnificent and clearly a clear reflection of those ANZACs’ who had trained in the same barracks before joining the entire force sailing for Gallipoli.

History also records that our young soldiers were at war before the battalion’s first birthday and fought many a bloody battle which included battles such as Long Tan and Bribie Island.

They were not alone, many thousands of young and not so young men and women served in Vietnam and there were so many unwanted knocks on the door by sad faced messengers with terrible news that a loved one was badly wounded or worse still, had been killed in action.

A classic example of sacrifice was demonstrated by a young married couple, two battlers with an infant son recently born, had a sad record of family sacrifice. The soldier’s father serving in England during WW2 was posted missing while on air operations over Germany. His wife’s father, a soldier, was reported missing in action in the Pacific 1942. Then another war (Vietnam) and the wife with the arrival of an unwanted knock on the door became a widow with the news her husband, a Regular Army Warrant Officer soldier, had been killed in action in Vietnam.

The characteristics of our soldiers in the Vietnam era were no different to wars before them and those that followed Always pride in who they were, what they were, and where they came from. Always was their humour, no matter how grim or demanding the circumstances. They were always as one, defiant, determined and resolute. Forever yearning to be home, in their beloved land down under.

Much of their time was spent in the seemingly endless green dense jungles, swamps, rubber plantations and rice fields.

No matter where, danger was so often just around the corner, be it fleeting clashes with small groups of enemy or outnumbered and under heavy fire at close range from a well camouflaged bunker system, not forgetting the heavy use of mines and booby traps where the weight or tug of a foot would trigger terrible injuries and so often death.

Not too far away, after evacuation by helicopters, were the dedicated and devoted beloved young Florence Nightingales, ready to receive and treat such terrible bloody wounds and comfort very troubled minds.

Not surprising, our troops quickly became much disciplined and battle-hardened veterans. They demonstrated personal and collective courage and, in my view, unquestionably their most powerful armour was their trust, caring, sharing and strong faith in each other, and immense regimental and national pride. There is much our politicians could readily learn from such soldiers’ selfless deeds and constant demonstration of unity from all walks of life, regardless of race, colour, or religion and always the belief; we are as one.

You, our students of today are our leaders of tomorrow in all levels of society. You can best honour all of our fallen by your conduct and example to those generations who will follow and mark it well, it will be an obligation of trust and honour, no matter your disappointments, trials and ordeals yet to be confronted.

Like my two young comrades in uniform with me today, hopefully your time will be forever in peace. And yet, no matter the challenges of life confronted, always you will be standing tall, forever your love of nation, sharing, caring, and always the battle cry as it was with the ANZACS, and forever more here in the land Down Under in all walks of life; “We are as one.”

George Mansford April 2023


* * * * *


We’re Going Home

A terrible feeling it was with no mail for many a day

Combat rations and a bent spoon became the dining way

Itchy burning rashes, tinea, blisters and ill-fitting boots

Hungry, weary and wearing muddy military suits

Yet I am so happy as this new day has begun

Silent and sulking are the once barking guns


I won’t have to climb another bloody hill

Nor stop at a creek and like a camel drink my fill

Forget about weapon pits, patrols or sentry duty for me

A soft mattress and crisp clean sheets shortly to be

Such bliss to soon ignore a sergeant‘s bellow to stand fast

Oh gawd, to think I will soon be free at long, long last


It is true I have actually survived?

Can it be that I am going home alive?

Pinch me to make sure it is not a dream

Now at last the signal to embark being given to our team

No more doubts of tomorrow or the terror of the unknown

Our time is surely up and at last we’re going home

George Mansford © December 2013


* * * * *


For the young leaders of tomorrow…

The ANZACS are Watching

Amid constant gloom and distant frowns

Increasing debt, and heads drooping down

Comes a time when a youngster will ask

“Am I ready for life’s tasks?”

The answer of course is so very clear

Think of the ANZACS who showed no fear

Cos they were Aussies, no different to you

Young, eager, larrikins and ever true blue

You too will have doubts but hardly a frown

Despite dangers, heads high and never looked down

Always a school’s battle cry, “do the best we can”

If all goes wrong in studies, stay cool; revise the plan

No matter the task, doubts, risks or cruel weather

You still go forward; all young Australians together

Even if cursed evil darkens the day

With love of country as your torch, you’ll find the way

Look out for each other; you are all part of the team

Your sword is faith and unity, forever sharp and keen

Seek tomorrow’s laughter and comforting sunlight

Go forward with love, not hate and for what is right

Take your kit bag of knowledge and reasoning with you

Both given free over years by parents and teachers too

Tell all of your respect for our precious way of life

Created with sweat, blood and pain in times of strife.

George Mansford © April 2022

George Mansford enlisted in the Australian Army in 1951 as a private and was discharged as a brigadier in 1990. He served as an infantryman; most of that time in the Royal Australian Regiment. His service included Korea, the Malayan Emergency, Thai Border, Vietnam, New Guinea and Singapore.

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The Leader of the Opposition says …

When Julia Gillard was Prime Minister, after every government announcement, action, or inaction the first line of most mainstream media articles on the subject – with predictable and monotonous regularity – began with; “Tony Abbott says …” or “The Leader of the Opposition says…”.

We haven’t been subjected to the same tedious announcements as much since the last federal election, but fear not, it is making its anticipated return.

Today offers no better example.

The announcement that our new $5 banknote will not be graced with King Charles’ portrait had Peter Dutton, in Abbottesque fashion, leap like a startled gazelle and seek a willing, compliant ear at 2GB.

This is some of the text that appeared both in and Sky News this morning (the “Leader of the Opposition says… ” moments are in bold):

But Peter Dutton blasted the move as “woke nonsense” and claimed it was a political attack by the government on Australian society and its institutions.

The Liberal leader said ditching King Charles was akin to the movement to change the date of Australia Day, which he likened to “discrimination”.

“I know the silent majority don’t agree with a lot of the woke nonsense that goes on but we’ve got to hear more from those people online,” he told 2GB Radio on Thursday.

Mr Dutton claimed Prime Minister Anthony Albanese had been “central” to the change and suggested he hadn’t been upfront with Australians.

“If it’s a decision they’ve made, own it, just be responsible and put your hand up and say this is the reason we’ve made it,” he said.

“I think it’s another attack on our power systems on our society and our institutions. There’ll be significant tax on Australia Day. People want to change that.

“There will be been an attack on the national anthem, that flag the name of Australia as we’re seeing in other parts of the world. So I just think you’ve got to stand up and in a lot more Australians have to be heard.”

I’m cursing myself for not taking a screenshot of the above because much of Mr Dutton’s “wokeness” rant has now been removed. Here is a link to the updated article.

Maybe the online poll received too many “No” votes and keeping the rant online painted Dutton in a negative light. (Yes, it’s conspiracy theory stuff, but I’ll own up to it.) I guess the only way we can find out is if a reader is a subscriber to the websites and is able to see the results.

Or simply, we’ve all had enough of the negative class/race/culture baiting coming out of the current Leader of the Opposition and the mainstream media has finally caught on that it’s not what their readers want.

We can only hope.


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A walk in the forest

Bayerischer Wald can be just as hard to get to than it is to pronounce.

For we folk who are only fluent in English there is a translation just for us: the Bavarian Forest. But it any language, it is still hard to get to.

Nonetheless, we were determined to get there.

Departing from Munich, reaching our destination required three trains to Grafenau before taking a taxi to the nearby and stunningly beautiful little village called Neuschönau, nestled near the forest and not too far from the border with Czechia.

Catching connecting trains in Germany presents a challenge we Australians are not too familiar with: the trains run on time.

Our first connecting train gave us a whole two minutes to scamper from one platform to the one over the other side. The second connecting train was far more generous, giving us a whole four minutes.

We discovered two things about trains in Germany: 1) If the timetable says the train is due in at, say, 10:26am then it arrives at 10:26am and not a minute earlier or a minute later, and 2) If the timetable says the train is due to depart at 10:28am, then it departs at 10:28am on the dot.

I could add a third: travel lightly. It’s rather awkward running as fast as you can to opposing platforms with a suitcase that weighs roughly the same as a small motor car, and then to find that the connecting train has nowhere for you to place it.

But all the running, huffing and puffing is worth it when you finely arrive at your hotel, which in our case was a drop-dead gorgeous old villa with million-dollar views from our room.

Mine host, Manuel, was a friendly enough sort of chap, though he gave me another reason to travel lightly; mumbling at me over the weight of our suitcases which he’d volunteered – with regrets – to carry up the stairs for me.

But we were in Neuschönau, and it was time to explore.

Liz (Photo from Facebook)

We didn’t get far. Liz’s Restaurant and Café, about a ten-minute walk from our hotel, beckoned us. Liz – a lovely English lady originally from the Channel Islands – married a German and returned with him to Neuschönau, in her words; “a lifetime ago”.

For Carol and I, who know only a handful of German words Liz was soon our go-to person while staying in the village. (Which was handy, as her little restaurant had food to die for. Her square chips alone are worth travelling to Germany for.)

As an aside, Liz mentioned that Carol and I were only the second lot of Australians to visit her little restaurant. A young couple from Melbourne were there six months earlier. It gave us the hint that Neuschönau was well off the beaten track when it came to tourists. (Away from the bustling crowds is worthy of a koala stamp.)

But we were only there for one reason: to visit Bayerischer Wald.

Manuel, bless him, gave us two return trip bus passes to the forest, so after a 15-minute walk to the bust stop our adventure was soon to begin. After a very short trip the bus driver gave us a nod that said; “We’re here”. (Little had we realised that the forest was within walking distance from the village.)

Alighting our bus, to our left was a tree-top walk, on the right, the forest itself. We went left, enticed by a massive tower that rose above the forest.

We needed a good hour to complete the tree-top and tower walk.


When you see something like this… you just want to check it out.


Part of the tree-top walk that heads towards the tower.




To give you an idea of the size of the tower, that small dot in the middle of the photo is Carol. The photo was taken from level 3.


Inside looking up.


With the tree-top walk done a dusted, we headed to the forest, unaware that we were about to embark on one of the most exhilarating days imaginable. Amazing wildlife, breathtaking scenery – the forest had it all.

It didn’t take long to meet one of its inhabitants: a startled red squirrel, who upon seeing me, sprinted off at roughly 750ks an hour. I kid you not.


Our first encounter on our forest walk: a European bison. The last thing we expected to see was a bison, which until that moment we had no idea that the creature even existed.



The forest is painted with vibrant colours.


If the sight of a bison was a surprise, then so too were the moose.


What looked like a small tiger is actually a lynx.


An “uhu” (German for “European eagle owl”) camouflaged in the rocks. The talons on this magnificent bird were as large as my hands.


It’s a bear! In the woods!


A welcome sign for weary legs. Forest walk done, the ‘red carpet’ is rolled out for the last few hundred metres.


The forest walk took us roughly six hours. If we could have pressed on for an extra hour we would have been rewarded with encounters with elk and boars, but the legs said “no”.

Apart from the wildlife we’d captured on film, we also encountered a wolf, some martens and beavers (who were making their home in readiness for Winter). The animals, unfortunately, were too quick for our cameras. The wolf, however, was just plain stubborn: refusing to come out from behind the bush were first spotted.

Finishing the day at Liz’s – and stories of our adventure – we vowed that we’d return if ever the opportunity would present itself.

”If ever you do,” said Liz, “promise me you’ll catch a train to Passau just north of here. It’s too beautiful not to see, and then you can catch a taxi to Neuschönau. Or you could have just taken a bus from Munich to here.”

What! There’s an easy way to get to Neuschönau! Now you tell us!

Yeah, but nah. The hard way was fun.

Carol and I visited Bayerischer Wald in September 2018. To this day, we haven’t forgotten a second of it.

(More photos here of the magical forest).


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No time to rest… here comes another one

Another orbit of the sun is almost complete. And it’s an event we humans welcome with much fanfare.

The new year, we religiously promise ourselves, is going to be much better than the one we’re saying farewell to.

2022 dished up some absolute horrors, namely the pandemic (a common feature of recent years), the horrific damage caused by floods, and the invasion of Ukraine. But I’m not here to write about the bad memories, rather, I’d like to comment on something positive…

We won!

For over a decade I’ve been waiting for the time when independent and social media – and not the mainstream media – have a major influence on who wins elections. In 2022 we triumphed, thanks to balanced and truthful reporting.

And not without opposition, of course.

We won against the most vile and aggressive attacks the mainstream – though predominantly the Murdoch media – directed at the likes of Anthony Albanese and Daniel Andrews. I’ve never witnessed anything as repulsive.

But we won! Our voice is strong.



We will stay strong, because you can be assured that in future campaigns the mainstream – and again, predominantly the Murdoch media – will fight back as vile and repulsive as ever.

I’m up for the fight. Will you join me?

Nonetheless, we begin a new year tomorrow. Like the old saying goes: When one door closes, another one opens.



For Carol and I, it’s been a year where we’ve valued your friendship.

See you on the other side. May the new door bring you happiness, good health and prosperity.


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‘Tis the season to be …

I don’t know how to finish the sentence.

Perhaps these will fit;

‘Tis the season to be exhausted. Yes, that might work. We’re all exhausted from the political road we’ve travelled over the last ten years.

‘Tis the season to be thankful. That one might work too. We’re thankful that the sufferings off people in far off lands are not at our door.

‘Tis the season to be bewildered. Yep, bewildered at the inequality the world over where, for example, the ultra wealthy spend billions to boost their egos while children die of hunger.

‘Tis the season to be un-surprised. Let’s face it, nothing surprises us anymore.

‘Tis the season to be relieved. We can all take down our paintings of talking eagles.

‘Tis the season to be woke. No explanation necessary. Woke works for us.

‘Tis the season to be gobsmacked. Let’s face it, when aren’t we gobsmacked because of conservative stupidity?

I dunno. I’m stumped. I don’t know what to use.

Oh, here’s a thought:

‘Tis the season to be jolly. Yes, let’s be jolly.

So a jolly good Christmas to our writers, admin, moderators, donators, commenters and readers.

Michael and Carol.


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Two men found dead on the Moon

As we approach the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 17 mission – the last time humans walked on the Moon – I am reminded of a short piece I wrote almost a decade ago about the immediate plans if the first mission, Apollo 11 went horribly wrong. For this piece I’ve kept the original title.


Some of us will be old enough to remember being glued to the television set when Neil Armstrong left the lunar module and ‘finally’ stepped on to the surface of the moon. We remember too, the image of President Nixon phoning the famous adventurers.

The first moon landing went without a hitch, culminating in that call from Nixon. Nixon would not have made that call, obviously, in the event of a disaster.

What would have he done instead?

For those wanting a break from the turbulent affairs of Australian politics, you may wish to read on. I’ve been shown this interesting document that tells us what Nixon would have done, or said, as an alternative to his famous call.

There was always the strong chance that the mission would fail. There was always the possibility that those men never returned home, being stranded on the lunar surface. In that event, a speech was drawn up which Nixon would have delivered to a shocked world. Titled “In event of moon disaster” it reads:

Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace.

These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice.

These two men are laying down their lives in mankind’s most noble goal: the search for truth and understanding.

They will be mourned by their families and friends; they will be mourned by their nation; they will be mourned by the people of the world; they will be mourned by a Mother Earth that dared send two of her sons into the unknown.

In their exploration, they stirred the people of the world to feel as one; in their sacrifice, they bind more tightly the brotherhood of man.

In ancient days, men looked at stars and saw their heroes in the constellations. In modern times, we do much the same, but our heroes are epic men of flesh and blood.

Others will follow, and surely find their way home. Man’s search will not be denied. But these men were the first, and they will remain the foremost in our hearts.

For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind.



The President should telephone each of the widows-to-be.


A clergyman should adopt the same procedure as a burial at sea, commending their souls to “the deepest of the deep,” concluding with the Lord’s Prayer.

Damn interesting, don’t you agree? It certainly makes one think of the alternative.


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First Contact

As the first Englishman to encounter Australian Aborigines, William Dampier instilled in other Englishmen’s minds the preconceptions about these people when he wrote that they were “the miserablest [sic] people in the world” (Donaldson and Donaldson, 1985:37). Banks and Cook were strongly influenced by Dampier’s writing, to which Cook added “the worst I think I ever saw” (Donaldson and Donaldson, 1985:37). The preconceptions had germinated by 1788, and the Eurocentric view towards Aborigines was neither innocent or neutral.

Contrary of course were the Aboriginal views. Opposite to English preconceptions, the Aborigines were attempting to relate to the inexplicable and apply cultural comprehension to their encounters with the advancing Europeans.

This post draws on selected features of three such contact periods between Aborigines and the English:

  • With James Cook (1770): lasting impressions
  • Arthur Phillip’s party (1788): superiority and sex
  • The colonial period from 1788 – 1790: dispossession.

Encounters with Cook

To the people on the shores of Fraser Island, the sighting of the Endeavour as it sailed past heralded great excitement – and significance. As the ship sank into the horizon and took with it the pale men on board, the local Aborigines drew connotations to the event with beliefs in their own customs. The pale skin – was symbolic of a corpse ready for burial; sinking into the horizon – was like a burial; and the mere presence of the Europeans – was an omen of ghosts returning.

To those on board the Endeavour this passing moment left no impression of excitement or significance: they had encountered Aborigines before, and as then, such passions were not stirred. In 1770 at Botany Bay, Cook and Banks accepted the Aborigines as Dampier had earlier reported: ‘the miserablest [sic] people in the world’ (Donaldson and Donaldson, 1985:37). Cook and Banks themselves were to add ‘naked and treacherous’ (Bourke et al, 1994:4): a collection of cowardly, unfriendly and vindictive savages belonging to the lowest order in creation. Such reports were to confirm the European concept of the ‘Great Chain of Being:’

Those newly arrived … did not see any 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. (Bourke et al, 1994:4).

The ‘ghosts’ were to return in 1788.

Governor Phillip

On 26th January 1788, the history of European-Aboriginal interactions began as the British flag was raised at Port Jackson. A ‘history,’ reflects Edwards, ‘that treated Aboriginal people as little more than impediments standing briefly in the way of inevitable white progress across the nation’ (Edwards, 1988:111). But the features of the 26th – and the surrounding days – were to carry no indication of this.

Governor Phillip and others – as noted – brought their preconceptions about Aborigines and also their intentions of their future. They were, after all, now part of Australia’s past, yet an acquaintance of confidence and friendship was to be cultivated by the ‘superior’ Europeans. These are important considerations to be kept in mind while discussing European interpretations or recordings of this period.

Contemporary writers offer a picture that suggests that in January, 1788 amicable relations between the Europeans and the Aborigines were established with comparative ease. Among them, Bradley wrote liberally of pleasant interactions; mutual curiosity; the offering and exchanging of gifts and the Aborigine’s friendly and inquisitive nature. (Bradley, 1969:1-9). ‘They will soon discover that we are not their enemies’ wrote Hunter, who also noted that the Aborigines were treating the whites as their equals: joining them in song and dance and playful imitation. (Cited in Kohen, 1993:48-49). In the art of dispossession – a perfect platform from which to launch a colonial stranglehold.

These pleasantries had a two-fold purpose: apart from planting the seeds of dispossession it was also a means to foster female exploitation. ‘Conquest of Aboriginal women was an anticipated part of the colonisation of Terra Australis.’ (Russell and White, 1994:28).

British gentlemen in the late eighteenth century believed it was natural to follow their sexual urges … and ‘native’ women were understood to be freely available to men travelling and establishing colonies.

The colonist’s perceptions of Aboriginal women remain one of the most fascinating features of this contact period. ‘They savoured the tantalising combination of nudity and timidity’ (Russell and White, 1994:34), which their ‘superior’ minds equated to primitiveness: ‘inseparable from the female characteristics in its rudest state’ (Tench, cited in Russell and White, 1994:36). Yet they were still highly attracted to the women and busied themselves in acts of chivalrous seduction. It is one of those moments in history that one regrets not witnessing: the amusing sight of European gentlemen offering handkerchiefs – the symbol of chivalry – in excited anticipation to the Aboriginal ‘temptress.’

Gender relations were also important to the Aborigines, though for different reasons. Their first impressions of the Europeans were similar to those of the Fraser Islanders: their pale-skin likening them to spirits of the dead. Such impressions require cultural description: ‘Why are they covered in plumes as elaborate and bright as a bird’s?’ ‘Perhaps they are half-cockatoo?’ ‘Are they men or women?’ The latter is of significance, because it soon became evident that these pale-skinned people were not ghosts. They were strangers.

In these initial encounters it is significant that the Aboriginal men’s first vital enquiry related to gender. Gender specificity was crucial to Aboriginal diplomacy. It determined both their behaviour towards and their expectations of the strangers.

Eager to know the stranger’s sex, the Aboriginal men beckoned a response from the Europeans to disclose their gender. Upon being identified as men also, the Aborigines responded with an approving shout. The reasons for this approval were never recorded, but there are theories based on known traditions: The Aboriginal reaction may have been to persuade Aboriginal women to meet the British men. In many parts of Australia, a male-negotiated offer of women to outsiders is a sign of peace and hospitality.

Perhaps, at the time, the outsiders were welcome as visitors.


Within a few short years they had overstayed their welcome. In acts of ‘savagery’ they felled trees, cleared the ground, gouged the earth, and displayed barbarity by disturbing Aboriginal graves and sacred sights. The clearing of land had always met with Aboriginal resistance, but these increased depredations were a sign that the Aborigines were also no longer welcome in their own land. Further:

As Aboriginal people … had nothing the invader wanted but their land, the official attempts to maintain diplomatic relations with them were abandoned. (Kociumbas, 1992:55).

The land ‘grab’ in these early years engulfed the fertile Hawkesbury and Nepean River regions west of Sydney. These areas provided a livelihood for Aboriginal people by being rich in food resources, but they were also excellent farming regions for the Europeans who ruthlessly and violently drove out the Aborigines. Facing starvation from depleted food sources and being physically displaced from traditional lands, the Aboriginal resistance to the farming expansion was not passive. White responses to the ‘savage’s’ reprisals leave no doubt as to who the real savages were. Following one particular incident in 1790 which resulted in the death of a white man:

The Governor [Phillip] ordered a party of military to shoot any six Aborigines and bring back their heads in bags, as well as take two alive for hanging. (Kociumbas, 1992:55).

Dispossession took more devastating forms other than the farming expansion or forced removal. The introduced diseases such as smallpox had more impact on the Aboriginal population than any human agency, which by as early as 1789 had decimated the numbers in the Sydney and Hawkesbury regions. By 1791, the traditional lands were littered with the bodies of dead or dying Aborigines.

Kohen sums up the legacy of this colonial period:

In the space of three short years … [the local Aborigines] had been exposed to terrible diseases which wiped out entire clans, had been prevented from gathering their traditional foods, and were now being prevented from travelling across their own land. (Kohen, 1993:59).

And so the tone was set.


Bourke, C; Bourke, E; and Edwards, B. (1994). Editors Aboriginal Australians. University of South Australia.

Bradley, W. (1969). A voyage to New South Wales: the journal of lieutenant Bradley RN of HMS Sirius 1786-1792. Public Library of New South Wales, Sydney.

Broome, R. (1982). Aboriginal Australians. Allen and Unwin, North Sydney, NSW.

Donaldson, I; and Donaldson, T. (1985). Seeing the first Australians. George Allen and Unwin, Sydney, NSW.

Edwards, W.H. (1988). An introduction to Aboriginal societies. Social Science Press, Wentworth Falls, NSW.

Evans, R; and Walker, J. (1977). “These strangers, where are they going?” Aboriginal – European relations in the Fraser Island and Wide Bay region 1770-1905 in Occasional papers in anthropology, number 8, pages 39-105.

Kociumbas, B. (1992). The Oxford history of Australia volume 2: possessions 1770-1860. Oxford University Press, Melbourne.

Kohen, J. (1993). The Darug and their neighbours: the traditional Aboriginal owners of the Sydney region. Darug Link: Blacktown and District Historical Society, NSW.

McGrath, A. (1995). editor Contested ground. Allen and Unwin, St Leonards, NSW.

Russell, P; and White, R. (1994). editors Pastiche 1: reflections on nineteenth century Australia. Allen and Unwin, St Leonards, NSW.


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Federation: A colonial view

Federation gave Australia a national government that speaks and acts for the country as a whole. First mooted in the 1840s, about forty years were to pass before the individual colonies took the first serious steps towards unification. In a theatre of intense colonial rivalry the moves towards federation were stalled and slow.

The first rumblings of nationhood developed under the repressive and militant sovereignty of a penal colony. Colonial liberals of the 1840s argued that the State – while under military rule and still receiving convicts – would continue to be seen as a gaol, discouraging both free emigrants and self-government. Political and social thought was in the process of evolving:

In short, the brutality and human degradation of the convict system destroyed the legitimacy of the old order and made new structures of government a precognition for independence. And, perhaps more importantly, this experience focused all attention on political reform and the benefits of a reformed – but still strong – state. (Najman and Western, 1993:31).

The first recorded idea of unification appeared in 1847 when Earl Grey, Britain’s colonial secretary, suggested a national assembly to regulate the common interests of the Australian colonies. In the 1850s John Dunmore Lang, a Scottish cleric in New South Wales, founded the Australian League which too called for, and campaigned for, a united Australia. The colonial governments, by the 1860s themselves in support of unification, began the first of many inter-colonial conferences to propose the role of a central government. However, because the participating colonies were also economic rivals, the movement towards federation was to be marred with hesitancy. As separate entities, the colonies were in conflict:

Each colony had its own customs and immigration laws, postal service and defence forces, and there was considerable mistrust between them. Increasingly free-trade New South Wales and protectionist Victoria feared each other’s motives, South Australia, free from the ‘convict taint’, looked down on the others, and Western Australia was suspicious of the faraway east. (Alomes and Jones, 1991:105).

Nonetheless, the Federal Council formed in 1885 and consisting of colonial representatives took the first steps towards federation by at least conferring on the prospects and advantages of a unified Australia. New South Wales premier, Henry Parkes, during his Tenterfield Oration in 1889 gave perhaps the first public announcement that the colonies did indeed view the prospect of federation seriously. The Australian Federation Conference in 1890 agreed to frame a constitution – the enabling factor in the system of government – for the Commonwealth of Australia, and subsequent conventions throughout the 1890s made considerable progress towards a constitution draft. In June 1900 the final draft was accepted by all the colonies, and in July of that year the Constitution Bill was passed by British Parliament. The Commonwealth of Australia came into existence on January 1, 1901.

Prior to federation the colonies were considered to be the real power of Australian politics. In framing the Constitution it was agreed that whilst the new central government “would have the authority to legislate on matters of common concern, [it] was not to interfere unduly with the legislative autonomy of the colonies.” (Crowley, 1980, p 146). The Constitution’s ‘Founding Fathers’ were thus concerned about keeping the existing colonial governments intact, and ensuring that the Commonwealth government’s powers were limited.

The federal Constitution reflected both British and American practices – that is, parliamentary government, with cabinets responsible to a bicameral legislature, was established, but only specifically delegated powers were given to the government. The new House of Representatives, like the British House of Commons, was based on popular representation, but the Senate, like its American counterpart, preserved the representation of the colonies, which now became states. (Powell, 1997).

The exclusive powers allocated to the central government included defence; trade and commerce with other countries and among the states; immigration; customs and excise, issuing of currency; interstate industrial arbitration; and postal and other communications. In essence it addressed the differences and rivalries that existed between the individual colonies, any of which can be a suitable argument as to why the colonies federated. Of the number of reasons that drove us towards federation, the three that I consider the most important (for the colonists) were:

  1. To facilitate intercolonial trade;
  2. The need for a united defence force;
  3. And – through immigration policies – to maintain and consolidate a ‘White Australia.’


One of the reasons that the move towards federation was marred with hesitancy was due to the economic rivalry and competing tariff systems between the colonies. The recognition of a uniform tariff policy – high on the agenda during the Federation Conferences – did not receive the cooperation of the ‘self-interested’ colonies. Acting independently the colonies had their own economic policies, and freedom of trade between these ‘economic rivals’ was stifled. Accentuating colonial differences was the manner in which the colonies controlled their own affairs. New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, for example, levied their own customs duties to raise revenue. Another element was the major economic differences between those colonies who could compete in export markets – such as New South Wales with its coal or Queensland with sugar – promoted ‘free trade’, and those such as Victoria which promoted ‘protection.’ Victoria, as a consequence of the gold rushes; the subsequent need to find unemployed miners work; and in an effort to improve working conditions had adopted a protective tariff in 1863. This policy also fostered land manufacturing industries. New South Wales on the other hand favoured free trade because of the importance of, and its strong base in, pastoral exports.

There was never any doubt among the Constitution makers that trade and commerce between the colonies could be absolutely free through uniform tariffs. The abolition of each individual colony’s customs and duties would have the effect of protecting the industries of one colony against the other. Under free trade the products of one colony – using Queensland in this example with sugar, rice, fruit and cattle – would have free entrance into the other colonies. The products of the other colonies would also have free entrance into Queensland.

As a commercial opportunity, “the form of the federation, and especially of its industrial and tariff powers … favoured more free market/low tariff policies.” (Najman and Western, 1993, p 36). The consequences, it is suggested, could have been chilling:

Without ‘state intervention’ Australia would be destined to develop rather as a poor Third World comprador economy, entirely dependent on cash crops and with a State designed only to maintain whatever measure of repression its foreign sponsors would demand. (Najman and Western, 1993, pp 34-35).


The issue of defence was simply a logical need for a “uniting voice on defending Australia.” (Forell, 1994:8). In 1885 – spurred on by perceived threats to their security – the colonies created the aforementioned Federal Council formally to manage such questions as defence co-operation. A brief summary of the preceding twenty five years provides the precursor for this agenda.

In 1860 the colony’s defence depended on some remaining British garrisons, and on the Royal Navy. By 1870 the last of the British garrisons had been withdrawn, leaving the colonies to build and deploy their own armies or navies. In the 1880s the prospect of European – as distinct from British – colonisation of the Pacific triggered fears of Australia’s subsequent lack of defence. Although Britain’s annexation of Fiji in 1874 was seen as steps of a stronger (and reassuring) British presence in the South Pacific, there was growing anxiety about the French penal colony in New Caledonia and their interest in the New Hebrides, and about German designs on New Guinea. Queensland, anticipating German moves, claimed Papua on New Guinea in 1883 on behalf of Britain – as a prod for Britain to further increase their role in the Pacific – however the British government rejected Queensland’s actions. Concerned that they might not be able to direct British policy in their interests and aware of the emergence of new powers in Europe, by 1885 the colonies – worried that Britain was insufficiently attentive to their fears – felt that their own security remained uncertain.

By 1889 however, the Federal Council – due to lack of co-operation between the colonies – had failed to deliver a unified defence program. In October of that year, Henry Parkes, in his Tenterfield Oration to mark the completion of the Sydney to Brisbane railway, appealed that having a national defence force under one central control was one of the incentives for federation. He endorsed comments from the British Imperial General, Major-General Sir Bevan Edwards as the conscience for this cause. Edwards had inspected the colonial forces and had been compelled to question the effectiveness of an “army without a central executive to guide its movements.” (Crowley, 1980:281). It was fuel for Parkes’ pro-federation speech, and driven by wild applause he further pushed Edwards’ message:

Believing as he did that it was essential to preserve the integrity and security of these colonies that the whole of their forces should be amalgamated into one great federal army, feeling this, and seeing no other means of attaining the end, it seemed to him that the time was close at hand when they ought to set about creating this great national government for all Australia. [Parkes appropriately added that, with the completed Brisbane to Sydney railway]: They had now, from South Australia to Queensland, a stretch of about 2000 miles of railway, and if the four colonies could only combine to adopt a uniform gauge, it would be an immense advantage in the movement of troops. (Crowley, 1980:281).

A ‘White Australia’

To parallel the colonies’ fear of invasion was the “fear and loathing of other races.” (Alomes and Jones, 1991:125). Henningham summarises both:

Australia’s geography – further from the colonist’s ‘home’ than almost any place on earth, and separated by only a narrow sea passage from the ‘teeming millions’ of Asia – resulted in the development of a xenophobic, isolationist world view, in which psychological barriers were erected against near neighbours. (Henningham, 1995, p 2).

Fuelled by the concept of Social Darwinism, the colonists were also anxious to maintain white purity which was under threat of ‘decay’ from the Indigenous population, and more predominantly, from the ‘invasion’ of Chinese who had arrived as diggers on the goldfields some decades earlier. “Anti-Chinese paranoia” (Kingston, 1993:137) however, extended beyond the arguments of Social Darwinism. Fostered as anti-Christian by the popular press, and with government enquiries into their alleged gambling habits and drug use, the Chinese were seen as the mental and moral corrupters of society. The anti-Chinese sentiment was also extended to an anxiety about economic competition given that in a variety of lowly occupations the Chinese were seen as a threat to wages and conditions, due to their acceptance of both at a level below the standards of the white worker. Such sentiments were also directed towards the Kanakas: the Pacific Islanders employed in large numbers in the Queensland sugar industry.

Adopting their own measures the individual colonies passed legislations limiting Chinese immigration. The colonists, being mainly Britannic Australians and intolerant of all races except the Anglo-Saxon, wanted it kept that way. Uniform immigration policies under the guise of federation would endorse this sentiment – without interference from the racially tolerant British.

This draws two conclusions: that one of the foundations of Australia is racism; and that Federation was the rationale to maintain white superiority. Subsequently, the first act of the new parliament was the Immigration Restriction Act which gave Australia national immigration policies such as the White Australia Policy. ‘White Australia,’ was designed to keep out Asian migrants and serve as “an ideological function in reinforcing the concept of an all-white nation.” (McGrath, 1995:365).

The most “basic flaw in Australian nationalism was its view of race.” (Alomes, 1988:30). Perhaps then, national identity was enshrined in the White Australia policy:

Upon the very isolation of this vast island continent … a unique human experiment might be attempted. As with nowhere else upon the globe, here a distinct biological community might be established, maintained and nurtured within a single geographic entity. If the indigenous peoples continued their perceived decline towards extinction and other migrant races were excluded or expelled, a ‘pure race’ could logically result. From such a vision, the idea of a ‘White Australia’ was born – a society where national boundaries conformed to racial ones – and by the time of Federation, this was no longer so much a matter of debate as a nation-wide article of faith. (Cited in Evans et al, 1997, p 26).


Note: For a more comprehensive discussion on ‘White Australia’ refer to the article linked directly below:

Nationhood and the ‘Pure’ Race (part 1)



Akmeemana, S; and Dusseldorp, T. (1995). ‘Race discrimination; where to from here?’ in Alternative law journal, Volume 20, Number 5, pp 207-211.

Alomes. S. (1988). A nation at last. Angus and Robertson, North Ryde.

Alomes, S; and Jones, C. (1991). Australian nationalism: a documentary history, Angus and Robertson, North Ryde.

Crowley, F. (1980). A documentary history of Australia volume 3: colonial Australia 1875-1900, Nelson, West Melbourne.

Evans, R; Moore, C; Saunders, K; and Jamison, B. (1997). Editors 1901 our future’s past: documenting Australia’s federation, Pan Macmillan, Sydney.

Forell, C. (1994). How we are governed, 11th edition, Longman Cheshire, Melbourne.

Henningham, J. (1995). Editor Institutions in Australian society, Oxford University Press, Melbourne.

Kociumbas, J. (1992). The Oxford history of Australia volume 2: possessions 1770-1860. Oxford University Press, Melbourne.

Kingston, B. (1993). The Oxford history of Australia: glad, confident morning 1860-1900, Oxford University Press, Melbourne.

Lovell, D; McAllister, I; Maley, W; and Kukathas, C. (1995), The Australian political system, Longmans, Melbourne.

McGrath, A. (1995). Editor Contested ground, Allen and Unwin, St. Leonards.

Najman, J; and Western J. (1993). Editors A sociology of Australian society: introductory readings, MacMillan, South Melbourne.

Powell, J. (1997). Australia in Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 1993-1996, Microsoft Corporation, CD Rom.


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Castle Hill: The Irish Rebellion in Australia

I have a confession: When it comes to history I am a total nerd. Today I offer a nerdish contribution of an event that most Australians may not be aware of:

We are familiar with two rebellions in colonial Australia; the Rum Rebellion (1808) and the Eureka Stockade (1854). But there was one more; the lesser known Castle Hill convict rebellion, which if successful, had the potential to change our history altogether*.

The Castle Hill Rebellion of 1804 stands as the “largest revolt in Australian history, and perhaps as the most dangerous to authority” (Grimshaw et al, 1994:47). However, it is to Ireland we turn to trace its origins. Thus I will open with a brief overview of Ireland’s struggles for civic and religious freedom, which culminated in the Irish Rebellion of 1798, where similarities later emerge at Castle Hill.

The transportation to Australia of large numbers of the Irish rebels was a concern for the authorities and the colony’s Protestant gentry: these convicts were Irish; they were rebels; they were Catholic; and they were anti-British. The pages of history provide us with some eccentric portrayals of this convict group – Marsden’s being notable – and some of these are included here for they are a good representation of the colony’s mood.

It is pertinent then that the mood of the Irishmen also be presented. Patrick O’Farrell (Aust/Irish historian) captures this and it is included while reviewing the aims of the rebellion.

I will endeavour to draw on the passion around the rebellion, for it was passion that drove it, and passion that attempted to prevent it and ultimately destroyed it. In essence, the moods of and preceding 1804 perhaps provide a better window to review the Castle Hill rebellion than most of the historical events themselves.

The Castle Hill rebellion has often been called the ‘Irish Rebellion’ owing to its strong Irish presence and leadership. It is worth then returning to Ireland to briefly review the struggles, events and significant outcomes of the preceding years which, in the Australian theatre, were to culminate at Castle Hill in 1804.

The history of Ireland was principally concerned with the struggle for Irish civic and religious freedom and for separation from Great Britain. The principles of the French Revolution found their most powerful expression in Ireland in the Society of United Irishmen, which organised the rebellion in 1798. To the cry of ‘death or freedom,’ (Connell and Irving, 1980:92) these Roman Catholic peasantry rose to their cause and, although insufficiently armed, made a brave fight. At one time Dublin was in danger, but the insurgents were defeated by the regular forces at Vinegar Hill. A French force of 1100 landed in Ireland but was too late to render effective assistance.

The British prime minister William Pitt thought that the legislative union of Great Britain and Ireland together with Roman Catholic emancipation was the only remedy for Roman Catholic rebellion and Protestant tyranny in Ireland. By a lavish use of money and distribution of patronage, he induced the Irish Parliament to pass the Act of Union, and on January 1, 1801, the union was formally proclaimed. Owing to the opposition of George III, however, Pitt was unable to make good his promise of emancipation for Roman Catholics.

The prospect of the seditious Irishmen of 1798 being transported to Australia created fears to the level of near hysteria among the Protestant gentry. Governor Hunter expressed these concerns:

“If so large a proportion of these lawless and turbulent people, the Irish convicts, are sent into this country, it will scarcely be possible to maintain the order so highly essential to our well-being.” (O’Farrell, 1993:37).

Similar concerns were later echoed by Hunter’s successor, the ever-fearful Philip King, whose own assassination was plotted by Irish convicts in 1800. The Reverend Samuel Marsden, the Anglican chaplain in NSW, added the contention that:

“… if the Catholic religion was ever allowed to be celebrated by authority … the colony would be lost to the British Empire in less than a year.” (O’Farrell, 1993:39).

In 1800 and 1801, hundreds of these ‘dangerous’ Catholic Irish prisoners were transported to Australia for their part in the 1798 rebellion, with most of them being assigned to the Castle Hill government farm near Parramatta. This influx swelled the number of Irish prisoners in the colony to over one-third of the convict population. The United Irish Rebellion had given Australia what the authorities had feared: some anti-British manpower which, if united had the potential to bring the colony to its knees.

These rebels were a colonial cynosure: their fellow Irish hero-worshipped them; the authorities feared them and exaggerated their numbers and influence. Governors had a potentially rebellious role marked out for them: their vision of Ireland was of a country seething with violence, its populace maddened by discontents, plots, and popery, in the grip of secret societies with designs and power beyond measure. Given this nebulous landscape of fear, the actual number of Irish was irrelevant: all Irish were rebels. (O’Farrell, 1993:30-31).

That fine custodian of moral virtue, Samuel Marsden, who epitomised the Protestant gentry that the Castle Hill insurgents would ultimately rise against, was quick to make public his further concerns. He reasoned:

The number of Catholic convicts is very great in the settlement; and these in general composed of the lowest class of the Irish nation, who are the most wild, ignorant and savage race … men that have been familiar with robberies, murders and every horrid crime from their infancy … governed entirely by the impulse of passion and always alive to rebellion and mischief they are very dangerous members of society … they are extremely superstitious artful and treacherous … they have no true concern whatsoever for any religion nor fear of the supreme Being: but are fond of riot drunkenness and cabals; and was the Catholic religion tolerated they would assemble together from every quarter not so much from a desire of celebrating mass, as to recite the miseries and injustice of their punishment, the hardships they suffer, and to enflame [sic] one another’s minds with some wild scheme of revenge. (O’Farrell, 1993:39).

One of Marsden’s suggestions was to abolish Catholicism, thus surely making the convicts worthy citizens and providing them religious happiness and personal well-being, while the official doctrine considered that the severe and savage penal code was the ideal agency of moral reform. However, the Irish convicts refused to be “metamorphosed” (Kociumbas, 1992:61), and on the evening of March 4, 1804, three hundred of their numbers stirred the feared (and anticipated?) rebellion. Led by Philip Cunningham and William Johnston – Cunningham himself a veteran of the 1798 rebellion – they marched to the familiar cry of ‘death or freedom,’ to which they later added: “and a ship to take us home.” (O’Farrell, 1993:37).

Overpowering the officials at Castle Hill, the insurgents seized arms and ammunition before breaking off into four groups to scour nearby agricultural settlements to collect further arms and recruits. The groups scheduled to reconvene outside Parramatta. Meanwhile, colleagues inside Parramatta were to set fire to the farm of John Macarthur – another epitome of the Protestant gentry – and during the diversion this would create the rebels would take the whole settlement. A simple yet equally ambitious plan followed: escape down the river to Sydney and secure a ship to take them home.

Some historians believed that the French may have been poised – at this point – to play an active role in the rebellion. A strong French presence in the Pacific (itself a cause of paranoia among the colonials) was enough to suggest that their aid could be solicited. An option, in the event that a ship could not be secured and the rebels having the numbers to do so, was to hold the colony until the French arrived. It should be recalled that the French were willing to fight with the Irish Catholics in 1798, and it is speculated that the aforementioned 1800 plot to kill Governor King also envisaged seizing the HMAS Buffalo as an offer to Napoleon.

However, the 1804 uprising was to lose momentum when two of the four rebel groups failed to arrive at the planned rendezvous outside Parramatta. Although they numbered between 250-300, and they had collected extra muskets, swords and pistols, it was an insufficient force to attack the town. Worse too, their confederates in Parramatta failed to light the diversionary fires, leaving the town more heavily defended than anticipated. Turning their focus towards the Hawkesbury, matters were to worsen further when at dawn they were overtaken at nearby Vinegar Hill by the forewarned Major George Johnston, and fifty-six men of the New South Wales Corps who had marched from Sydney.

Contemporary records of the confrontation are favourably biased towards the military, and as such, Major Johnston’s ensuing acts are credited with reports of heroism, rather than with expressions of atrocity (personal opinion). However, it is from the contemporary records that we have at least gained some narrative.

Major Johnston called on the insurgents to down arms and submit themselves to the mercy of the proclamation (of martial law). The call was ignored, though he was able to persuade the leaders – Philip Cunningham and William Johnston – to meet with him and another trooper in truce. Dispelling the impropriety of their conduct, the rebel leaders ended the truce with shouts of ‘death or liberty.’ Under the virtue of discretionary power, Major Johnston responded with “great presence of mind and address” (Crowley, 1980:27) by presenting his pistol to Cunningham’s head and ordering his detachment forthwith to cut the insurgent body to pieces.

In fifteen minutes of zeal, against futile resistance, the troopers killed nine rebels (without loss) and left dozens wounded. Taking flight, three more were killed by the pursuing soldiers – a small number, considered Major Johnston – in view of the fondness for blood that his well equipped troopers exhibited. (Johnston was to later report that his own intervention prevented the cold-blooded murder of several unarmed prisoners.) During the next few days volunteer settlers pursued and rounded up the remaining rebels. Peace had been quickly restored, leaving the Castle Hill rebellion itself as only a very brief chapter in Australian history.

It was a telling victory for the authorities that was to extend beyond the affray: the punishments reserved for the rebel leaders was to act as a deterrent to future insurrections for the remaining sixty years of the convict system. The human cost was a chilling deterrent:

Phillip Cunningham was hanged without trial, there and then, in the middle of the Hawkesbury settlement for all to see. … Eight other leaders [were] summarily courtmartialled and executed, two of them hanged in chains. Nine others flogged (200-500 lashes), and thirty more shipped north to [the harsh] Coal River (Newcastle) settlement. (McLachlan, 1989:45-49).

Moreover, it was a victory for Protestant ascendancy and a measure of dealing with Catholic grievances. One such measure – quickly adopted by the authorities – was to geographically disperse potential rebels rather than congregate them in numbers, as they had, at Castle Hill.

The aims of the Castle Hill rebellion are not debated by most historians. The rebels – it is agreed – did not seek revenge nor did they kill anybody. Nor did they have any political objectives. It was in essence an uprising in response to servitude. The central aim was to escape death or liberty, and a ship to take them home. But O’Farrell questions whether there was anything to gain out of the motivation for – ‘Death or liberty’:

Death or liberty was a choice of their own contrivance. Some of them were seven-year men who could have worked out the remainder of their sentences. Cunningham was a skilled workman acting as an overseer of stonemasons; he had a house of his own; as had other leaders of the rising. They had something real to lose; why throw it – and life – away? Theirs was not the rebellion of crushed desperation, but of sentiment and hope, forlorn maybe; an affirmation of spirit … What drove the Irish was not only ideologies and dreams, but frustrations, sickness of heart, and impulses of affront: in a word, pride, which in the circumstances of convictism – not very different in style from the looser yoke permanently affixed by England to Ireland – expressed itself in grim determination not to be broken … The cruelties incidental to transportation, degradation, uprooting, and separation from families, might have weighed more heavily than the direct burden of forced labour. (O’Farrell, 1993:37-38).

The origins of the rebellion, I conclude, cannot be found in the harsh reality of the convict system, but in the heart of the Irishmen themselves.

*It is teasing to contemplate what might have happened if the rebellion was successful and the French had came to their aid. Would we still be speaking English?


Connell, R.W; and Irving, T.H. (1980). Class structure in Australian history, Longman Cheshire, Melbourne.

Crowley, F. (1980). A documentary history of Australia volume 1: colonial Australia 1788-1840. Nelson, West Melbourne.

Grimshaw, P; Lake, M; McGrath, A; and Quartly, M. (1994). Creating a nation. McPhee Gribble/Penguin, Ringwood.

Kociumbas, J. (1992). The Oxford history of Australia volume 2: possessions 1770-1860. Oxford University Press, Melbourne.

McLachlan, N. (1989). Waiting for the revolution: a history of Australian nationalism. Penguin Books, Ringwood, Victoria.

O’Farrell, P. (1993). The Irish in Australia. Revised edition. New South Wales University Press, Kensington, NSW.

Rude, G. (1978). Protest and punishment. Oxford University Press, Great Britain.



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Fun times ahead

The AIMN opened its doors in January 2013. It was an election year and Tony Abbott was Leader of the Opposition, and Tony, bless him, was the gift that kept on giving: So much idiocy and incompetence wrapped up in one small package.

Readers couldn’t get enough of him. In my 15 years in social media I’ve learned that people love reading an article about someone they don’t like. It reinforces their own opinions.

Nobody liked Tony, yet I thank him for providing The AIMN with a wealth of material. They were fun times.

We belonged to the growing number of independent sites doing their darndest to keep him out of The Lodge. But alas, he got the keys and we then spent the next nine years trying to take away the keys from him and his successors.

Tony eventually became a distant memory, yet we got by without him.

After Labor’s victory in the May election I pondered whether our time was up. The battle had been won. What on earth would we do now? It was that “What will we do without Tony” sort of feeling all over again.

It appears though – that despite my gloom – our work is not yet done.

Fun times are ahead and we’ll still have plenty to write about:

  • Scott Morrison as Minister for Everything will attract a wealth of scrutiny.
  • There’s the forthcoming ICAC. That should be a real buzz.
  • The Indigenous Voice to Parliament.
  • Possible leadership challenges if Peter Dutton continues his slumping (un)popularity.
  • Murdoch suing Crikey and the ramifications of it.
  • The Jobs Summit.
  • Someone from the Opposition will do or say something stupid (that’s a 100% guarantee).

… just to name a handful.

Plus, of course, a government needs to be held to account no matter which party it is.

But primarily, we will be repeating our goals from 2013: Doing our best to keep the Coalition in opposition.

And here’s one scary thought to keep in mind …


Though hope is on the horizon …


Fun times ahead.


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