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The Bicentenary, 1988: Indigenous protest at the First Fleet re-enactment

The Bicentenary, 1988: Indigenous protest at the First Fleet re-enactment

The Vicar said; give thanks that Australia has never seen a war on its own soil.

Sir ScotchMystery disagrees.

Allow me to begin this with apologies for those upset by the stir up caused by my last effort.

It certainly got people talking; well, a few of us.

Yesterday’s dawn service at Morningside was an interesting affair. I’ve been going now for about 4 years and I tend to leave home at around about 3:45 AM and arrive maybe 15 minutes before the service is due to begin at 4:28 AM, to give me a chance to find a car park, and walk to the service which in the instance yesterday was around about a kilometre.

What I didn’t know before the service is that the local RSL which usually hosts the gunfire breakfast has closed since last year and I didn’t know for the simple reason that I don’t go to RSL clubs very much, for a number of reasons but I suppose the major one is I simply don’t feel that old.

Anyway, back to what I was saying – the service had a parade Marshall, the local vicar, 2 politicians (3 if you count the Council member), and a couple of young people from the Navy, one of whom played a couple of hymns on an electronic piano, whilst the other one played the bugle.

I usually find the prayers a little tedious, because I don’t understand what sort of God even lets people go to war if he so all-powerful. That’s a decision for others to take – and I don’t have a problem with it. The thing that caught my interest during his “speech” for want of something better to call it, (prior to the prayers), was his observation that Australia has “never seen a war on our own soil”, and it struck me as interesting because I found myself thinking back to my father, who was also a vicar, who even back in the seventies found our treatment of first people quite challenging to say nothing about, though to the best of my knowledge he never spoke about it in church.

So I’m not going to go into a big diatribe on it and cause people ructions. All I’m going to say is that I strongly disagree with the vicar’s view that Australia has never seen a war on her own soil, and note how pleased I was that there were either no first people at that dawn service yesterday, or any that were there chose to ignore that man’s ignorance. That having been said I suppose, when we have a Prime Minister who runs round saying that our history began in 1788, it’s hard to expect much more.


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  1. kmatilda2013

    So the bombing of Darwin and the invasion of Sydney Harbour by 2 Japanese subs as well as the Black Line in Tasmania and the terrible massacres of Aborigines throughout Australia were totally overlooked then. Lucky i wasn’t there, he’d have had to throw me out.

  2. Graham Parton

    Quite right, by calling the first whites “settlers” instead of “invaders” we are able to pretend that there was no invasion. Israel does the same thing.

  3. Rosemary (@RosemaryJ36)

    I wonder how many of Australia’s first people would react to the vicar’s statement, particularly as some of them fought for us having previously unsuccessfully fought against us?

  4. abbienoiraude

    Thank you for remembering those who fought for their Nations within the boundary of Gwandanaland.
    I remember my dad recounting his return to Australia afyer his service in Middle East Greece and Crete. He said: “When I returned home addled with malaria I was disheartened to hear and see the complacency and arrogance of the civilian population. It was the only time I thought to myself that if the Japanese did hit landfall we might have been a better peoples in the need to unite”.

    Those 4 years of warservice never left my father and as he grew older and became demented the memories came back sharply esp when Howard frightened the bejeesus out of the elderly and frail after Sept 11. Dad’s PTSD was heightened then and the experiences of death he witnessed was a constant in his last few months.
    How I hated Howard then and am glad dad is not witness to the ignorance and fearmongering of yet another Conservative coward PM.

  5. Blanik

    Kmatilda, You must have forgotten the we all admire the skill and courage of the jap soldiers as expounded by our own Captain Catholic born in the UK in 1957.
    They were particularly good at torture, slavery, starvation, beheading, crucifixion, and christ only knows what else by these same courageous japs.

    Not to mention the invasion in 1788 when civilization was brought to the ‘heathen’.

  6. Matters Not

    Australia has “never seen a war on our own soil”,

    Such an assertion is simplistic and at so many levels. (Leave out the British ‘invasion’ for a moment or two and think deeper.)

    The original Australians weren’t actual ‘happy campers’ on an ongoing, or indeed ‘temporary’ basis. What we might describe as ‘murder’, ‘rape’ and the like happened on regular intervals between and among ‘groups’.

    In short ‘wars’ between ‘tribes’ was always part of the Aboriginal historical landscape.

    But I suppose one’s ‘insights’ are always limited by one’s definition of ‘history’ and who decides same.

  7. eli nes

    Sadly, you do not have to be in a war to be profoundly affected by its consequences.
    I can see hundreds of baby boomers who believe the bombing in the north was nothing compared to Pearl Harbour because their dad told them, Their dad told them that the Americans saved us from the Japs.
    I prefer to believe the Japanese who expected to take PNG but we thwarted that plan by the Aussies on Kokoda. Not the boys in Brisbane.
    My primary source for ww1 died in 67 and ww2 twenty years later. They were both over 30 when they joined.
    Their meagre offerings have been morphing with my memory to myth for 30 years There is no room for macarthur’s and menzies’ propaganda..

  8. Matters Not

    When it comes to ‘history’ one should feel outraged that Scott McIntyre was sacked because he had the temerity to ‘question’, if not ‘demolish’, some recent myths about some of our soldiers and their behaviour.

    He reminded us:

    Remembering the summary execution, widespread rape and theft committed by these ‘brave’ Anzacs in Egypt, Palestine and Japan.

    One wonders how many are aware of that ‘history’? And if not, then why not? Or do we only want to remember the ‘good bits’? And bury the ‘bad’? A sort of selective history?


    Not forgetting that the largest single-day terrorist attacks in history were committed by this nation & their allies in Hiroshima & Nagasaki

    Then again we sent our boys and girls overseas to fright for ‘freedom of speech’; provided of course that such freedom didn’t extend to ‘truth telling’ of the inconvenient variety?

  9. Matters Not

    Not sure whether that should be ‘fight for freedom’ or ‘fright for freedom’ as I posted.

    Certainly the Village Idiot would identify more closely with the latter.

  10. Matters Not

    When it comes to ‘History’, I was profoundly influenced in my younger years by E H Carr’s wonderful book What Is History?

    And yes we now have a more developed understanding of what Carr then wrote, as he himself recognised before his untimely death.

    Trying to explain the concept of ‘history’ to grandchildren that goes far beyond the who, what, when. where and how (the Pyne ‘understanding’ of ‘history’, on a good day), I stress the importance of the ‘why’.

    The ‘the who, what, when. where and how’ can be electronically ‘searched’ with some relatively uncontested ‘accuracy’ but it’s not ‘history” It’s only when the ‘why’ enters the equation, and is discussed and disputed, that it becomes A ‘history’.

    Yes ‘history’ is always A history. Always a ‘view’ and will always be a ‘view’. Never the truth, in any absolute sense.

  11. Jexpat

    Australians knew nothing of the Manhattan Project and were kept (glowing) in the dark by the Americans and the sorry, lowly, wannabee British well through the latter half of the 1950’s.

    If Mr. McIntyre wanted to become yet another twitter martyr, he achieved his goal- but what he didn’t do (like so many of his lazy colleagues in 21st Century Australian journalism) was the slightest bit of homework before going off on his < 140 character rant.

  12. Macca

    And NOBODY seems to be mentioning the silent war of words; if you put a W in front of word, it becomes ‘sword’, for example, AB before a word means, ‘away from’, as in: abortion, abstain, abnormal, aback, abandon, abbreviate, etc; SO WHY on earth is everybody calling the original people of Australia ‘AB ORIGINAL’? ? ? If you’re original, you’re ORIGINAL, no more, no less……

    If you really want remedy and comprehension of how we’re being manipulated, ON A MASS SCALE,, please research, ‘Judge, Anna von Reitz’ OR ‘Jordon Maxwell’; you’ll find plenty of Jordon Maxwell’s teachings on YouTube.

    Also, and are highly recommended study sights to research.
    These AMAZING individuals, have cracked the nut!

    In Lak’ech.

  13. stephentardrew

    Here we all are blinded by ANZAC day as the most invidious piece of corporate legislation is negotiated in secret.

    To tell you the truth I am damn sick of flag waving while the corrupt, financial corporate and political class deflect from the real issues that should matter to the citizens of this country.

    Destroy national sovereignty while waxing lyrical about the poor buggers who were lied into unjust wars just to realise they were conned by a bunch of incompetent politicians and complicit media. Meanwhile the TPP avoids critical analysis and debate by those who are going to be most damaged by its passing.

    Simultaneously the neo-con fascists completely undermine freedom of the press using regulations that are wide open to government abuse.

    Both the L-NP and Labor are complicit in this farce. Time to come out in opposition Labor or loose all credibility and a great swathe of swing voters.

    What a con. Wake up Australia if you are working class, (this includes the fallacious overblown middle class) poor, disabled or marginalised you loose.

    Asio Act review told journalists face jail even if reporting on serious wrongdoing Paul Farrel Monday 27 April 2015 06.30 AEST

  14. diannaart

    Sir Scotchmystery

    Your words raise far more questions than there are answers.

    Where to start. Dunno. Just a few comments.

    We have had Prime Ministers who would white wash history – those who believe history is merely a balance sheet of entries which cancel each other out – these same types believe that science needs to be ‘balanced’ with mythology as well:

    “I profoundly reject the black armband view of Australian history. I believe the balance sheet of Australian history is a very generous and benign one. I believe that, like any other nation, we have black marks upon our history but amongst the nations of the world we have a remarkably positive history.”

    John W Howard’s Whitewash Speech, 1996

    Culminating in the latest PM who believes “shit happens”.

    Of course, any thinking person has been aware for millennia that HIStory is written by the victorious – no change there until we have some real balance – historians who are not white, male and, consequently, privileged. Just as First Nation people have been blamed for ‘doing nothing’ women have been excluded from much mention throughout the ages – leaving men to have explored, invented, fought, everything (not necessarily in that order). But women got the ‘useless’ brush along with any (this includes all those marginalised men) who suffer at the hands of the few & powerful and dared to differ with this miserly minority.

    It suits the powers-that-be to have men fighting women – fighting anyone who is perceived as ‘different’.

    We have still to learn that we are our own jailers – that divide and conquer works as well today as it ever did.

  15. edward eastwood

    @ Matters Not. E.H. Carr eh? Showing your age. The next thing you know, you’ll be dragging out Hans Morgantheau! Or perhaps the great daddy of ’em all – Hobsbawm.
    With regard to your comment; “History may be written with blood and iron but it’s printed in ink.” – Gustav Hasford author of ‘The Short Timers’.

  16. Sad sack

    Spot on! all soldiers commit atrocities as a group – rape, murder and stealing is the norm (despite the Nancy l) until recently when women have shown themselves capable soldiers, but even then it has not been eradicated as a few visits to soldiers sites will show a deep attitude to women.
    Any pollie who begins by spruiking ‘I believe..’ Has already rationalised the votes and is about to or has already lied.
    Howard’s dad was a www1 man, perhaps little johnnie carried the scars?
    When the Australian was readable ‘How ‘ard is it to say, sorry’ was on the front page.

  17. mars08

    Yammer, yammer, whining lefties… blabber, narl… black armband… yammer, screech…!

  18. stephentardrew

    I plead guilty Mars08.

  19. Sir ScotchMistery

    @ Diannaart – well put.

    To everyone else, thank you. I could have gone on and on but thought it better to just raise the issue.

  20. Sir ScotchMistery

    @Mars08 thank you so much for your words. They added inestimable amounts to our discussion. As ever your input is appreciated. Somewhere.

  21. NicH

    @ Stephentardrew. One thing I have been wondering about the ttp, If Abbott is found to be still a british citizen then wouldn’t his signing of this document be void? Sorry for my ignorance, just something I have been wondering about.

  22. stephentardrew


    Best ask Kaye, Michael or those with the legal grounding. At the moment Labor and the independents show no willingness to pursue Abbott’s citizenship. I have a feeling the numbers people probably had focused groups which demonstrate it may not be a winner for the opposition. It’s all about politics and bending the rules to suit self-interest, left or right.

    The only hope would be to follow through when Abbott is defeated however I wonder at Labor’s willingness to step out on a limb. They look like a shell shocked bunch of turtles hiding in their shelter hoping that Abbott will do the dirty work for them. If Turnbul or Bishop the Asbestos Queen get in before the next election the whole small target strategy could come back to haunt them.

    I believe in multiple pathway strategies which should be disclosed to the public in preparation for various alternative outcomes. Better to inform than play small target wishful thinking. Labor are too scared to take a stand on moral grounds and fight for change. Easier to show low profile complacency than take up th challenge of a full frontal attack.

    You never know things may change however the trends seems pretty well set in concrete. On the other hand maybe the numbers people have it right though I doubt it because there are too many variables.

    In short no one seems to care.

  23. Sir ScotchMistery

    @stephentardrew I really don’t think ALP are in any position to take any high ground, moral or otherwise in the TPP debate.

    In fact the reason it’s getting air is that Australians as a group don’t care what is done to them or in their name. #refugees anyone?

    A change of government will be more of the same until Australians get angry and get involved. EFA is doing some excellent work with their #citizensnotsuspects campaign against data retention and their other stuff around the TPP.

  24. diannaart

    I agree Sir ScotchMistery

    Lifting the citizenship rock would find far more than just Tony Abbott scuttling about. Another pebble to consider – is not Bill Shorten friends with the Abbott? Law professionals hold friendships across the fence, the same is true for politicians. To what degree professionalism wins out varies according to the players, what the goal is and assorted interest groups.

    At present both parties have too much in common, if Labor were to change their stance on refugees, the game would change. Finally, these self important pretenders do care – but not for the same ideals of the majority.

  25. stephentardrew

    Agreed Scotchy and diannaart there ain’t no viable opposition.

    One needs to stop living in hope.

    Sad but true.

  26. diannaart


    Hope is why we are here, remain here and continue to search for truth.

  27. Kaye Lee

    “When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it–always.”
    ― Mahatma Gandhi

    “The road that is built in hope is more pleasant to the traveler than the road built in despair, even though they both lead to the same destination.”
    ― Marion Zimmer Bradley

  28. NicH

    “In short no one seems to care”

    I think some people do care a great deal, it all just seems so hopeless.

    I live with MS am in a wheelchair, live in constant pain. I went to the first march in march, but for me to go to these things takes a great deal of effort, I am very aware of the state of the world but I feel helpless to change anything. My big hurt is people who are homeless, cold and hungry, It breaks my heart that people are in these situations, I have 3 sons and I would hate for them to be in that situation, I make a donation each year.

    We are all one diagnosis or tragedy away from losing it all. I wish some people would stop and think of what it would be like to lose it all. Just like that, I lost my career, I was a chef, my ability to earn a living, I rely on the DSP. Life took a turn I wasn’t expecting.

    I don’t know why I’m telling you all this, I just would hope that one day society will see it as unacceptable to have anyone no matter where they are, alone, cold and hungry.

  29. mars08


    …however I wonder at Labor’s willingness to step out on a limb. They look like a shell shocked bunch of turtles hiding in their shelter…

    Frankly I’m astounded that you imagine Labor’s position to be based on timidity alone. It’s odd… because in your other comments you’ve acknowledged Shortens neolib, conservative leanings. We shouldn’t just be waiting for the ALP to become more vocal and fearless…. rather we should be hoping that they unambiguously adopt a social justice.agenda.

  30. Kaye Lee


    “I feel helpless to change anything …. I don’t know why I’m telling you all this”

    Putting a human face on issues is what we must all do and I thank you for your contribution. I also admire your strength in advocating for others.

    We have a society which our economy should serve….not the other way around. Every single person needs help in their lives. We must recognise intrinsic worth, nurture potential, offer choice and opportunity, and protect and assist those in need. We have the means and it is up to us, every one of us, to loudly demand the society we want. We should not be bullied and ruled by corporate greed as our politicians are. When we come together in places like the AIMN we draw strength from each other to demand such change. We also have the power – CEOs and politicians and megarich people only get one vote each. 😉

  31. stephentardrew

    Criticism accepted Mars08:

    Get a bit lost sometime wandering around looking for reasons for such unwarranted injustice. Still questioning ones beliefs is not such a bad thing. I meant the type of timidity born of strategic withdrawal and small target while they still support the right neo-con faction who play hard and fast yet hide behind a facade of labor progressivism. The low profile approach is a no profile approach full of pretense and dis-ingenuousness. No wonder so many ex-labor supporters are so disillusioned with the party. There really is not much meat to hang onto for progressives. In this sense they do demonstrate feigned timidity while waiting for Abbott to self-destruct knowing they are not going to offer the type of alternative the left would hope for. The real challenge is to undo neo-conservatism and supply side economics which they are not going to do. Low-profile strategy while fighting factional wars for power and control does not serve ordinary members or the party as a whole. They are timid and even cowardly about real change and progressive policies because that is not their objective.

    In fact it would be good to know what the hell they represent because I don’t think many of us honestly have much of an idea.

    They are not openly challenging supply side economics or economic rationalism which is exactly what is required by true progressives.

    I don’t see much courage or real strength in the party and the latest opinion poles put Abbott in front of Shorten.

    They could not do much worse if they tried.

  32. mars08

    @stephentardrew…. no criticism intended. I find myself in the same boat. As a former Labor voter, a fragment of me refuses to let go of the notion that the ALP might eventually redeem itself.

  33. Annie B

    To Rosemary ( 7.12 pm )

    “I wonder how many of Australia’s first people would react to the vicar’s statement, particularly as some of them fought for us having previously unsuccessfully fought against us?”

    They most likely would have re-acted with dignity. … the indigenous folk who allow speaking in public, tend to do so with a great deal more aplomb, self assurance, and peaceful approach, than the ‘caucasian’ mob that is so often bailed up by the mediam and who shout their invective against all and sundry. …. Eons ago, the indigenous folk may have tried to fight against the invasive ‘whites’ out of big boats, but could not. … They were ill-equipped, and uneducated in ‘white’ mans’ ways. … Much, much later they turned around and enlisted to fight for their – and our, country. … I think that says more for them, than it does for the ‘white fella’.


    @Matters Not – 8.53 pm …. ( >> Australia has “never seen a war on our own soil” >> ) “Such an assertion is simplistic and at so many levels.

    “In short ‘wars’ between ‘tribes’ was always part of the Aboriginal historical landscape.
    But I suppose one’s ‘insights’ are always limited by one’s definition of ‘history’ and who decides same.”

    True … However, if one is to look at the incidence of domestic violence ( in and between families / neighbours et al ) … the same thing applies. … Or it should. …

    That is indeed ‘war’ on a domestic scale ( caucasian or other ethnicity, style ) . – So much the same as has happened in indigenous tribes over the centuries. … which ends up being ‘pot calling the kettle black’ – pun intended. …

    Agree with your assertions.


    @ stephentardrew –

    “One needs to stop living in hope. ……. Sad but true.”

    Disagree stephen. …. Hope is eternal and a great self protection …. Diannarat and Kaye Lee said it all … I have no need to add further to those comments.


  34. Annie B

    Sir Scotch Mistery ……

    A great article …. and again you have opened up wide and diverse discussion in the group here.

    Good onya. …

    ( I mean that, despite our previous disagreements !! ). 😉

  35. stephentardrew

    It’s OK Annie we all have our moments of disillusionment, however, by now, you should realise I am no quitter.

    I wanna fight the good fight.

  36. Annie B

    @ stephen t – –

    I sure realise you are no quitter Stephen, and that you do want to fight the good fight. …. No argument from me on that one.

    Guess we can agree to disagree on a rare occasion … and it IS a rare happening, isn’t it. 🙂

  37. Gangey1959

    Sorry I’m late.
    I have a note from my doctor.
    Anzac Day has opened up so many differing opinions lately. This year in particular. I wonder why that is.
    Mine, for what it is worth, is that the landing of Australian and New Zealand volunteer troops at Galliopli 100 years ago marked our collective entry as Nations into global affairs. It was as simple as that, despite all the “king and empire” bullshit we were fed by our leaders, and their northern hemisphere colleagues.
    Sir Scotchy’s vicar has an interesting take. I assume he means that ‘white’ Australia has never had to face an invading force from anywhere……..
    It is just a shame that Gallipoli, or the Western Front where my forebears fought and some died, or Singapore & Korea, Vietnam, Timor, Afghanistan, and all of our other battlefields were not resolved with the ease with which a musket fired at the half dozen landowners back in 1770 at Botany Bay enabled the british under captain cook to claim Australia for england. Or did that really just enable the british to hide the real numbers of the casualties? Even over the following years til now.
    I assume that a forensic examination of the shield dropped by it’s owner as they ran from the noise and smoke might show traces of lead around the ‘bullet’ hole. No wonder the british museum wont give the shield back. BASTARDS.
    I’m sure we’d exchange it for tony and family. Except that the poms back in england don’t want him either.

    Anyway. Its nearly Mother’s day. I have to go and buy something pink and flowery. Mr woolworths and mr coles say so.
    Bye for now.

  38. Sir ScotchMistery

    Interestingly, I’ve just had a couple of days in a tiny little town in western Queensland being given an opportunity to look at an alternative view of who we are what we do, not just as voters, but as people.

    Upon my return, and I know a none of you will be surprised to find that I actually wrote to the vicar concerned expressing my disquiet, I find 2 emails from him discussing what he had said and accepting my right to feel some disquiet over what he had said.

    I don’t think I feel a sense of joy about that, but I am pleased that he understood where I was coming from. He did indicate he’s done quite a bit of work with First People over the years, and like me has experienced some disillusionment in that work.

    Secondly – Annie, I am so pleased.

  39. Sir ScotchMistery

    That’s beautifully put in fact. You’re right. Racial division has no place in this society. Perhaps sometime that should be mentioned during struggles to get a fair go from white man’s law?

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