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The pueriles of Pauline

Richard Ackland’s brilliant article today (‘The defence of free speech is limited for the anti-18C brigade‘ in The Guardian) reminds us of one of Pauline Hanson’s more puerile assertions: that “Aboriginal women ate their babies”. Ackland wrote:

A book published in her name, Pauline Hanson – The Truth, made a number of ludicrous claims, including that Aboriginal women ate their babies. When a racial vilification case was brought against the book, it was defended under the RDA exemption for publishers acting reasonably and in good faith.

Let us leave aside the absurd finding that the publishers were “acting reasonably and in good faith”: absurd in that they must have believed her and that her evidence could not be disputed, and ponder instead how Pauline Hanson could have come to her conclusion of these cannibalistic practices.

I can only assume she read it in a book.

After five years at university studying (among other things) Aboriginal archaeology and anthropology I can confidentially announce that there was no evidence in the archaeological record or oral histories to suggest they did, but yes, it was once ‘confirmed’ in a book. This book reported that:

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

The book? David Blair’s History of Australasia, published in 1879. The above paragraph can be found on page 237.

When quoting that paragraph for my Honour’s thesis (A review of the racist ideologies of Social Darwinism and eugenics in colonial Australia in the formative years of Federation, and how these ideologies were applied to purify and secure a White Australia) I introduced it by noting that:

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

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

I clearly underestimated Pauline Hanson. She is far more well-read than I ever imagined. One can only assume that she has read David Blair’s repulsive work and as such is well-versed in the Australia of 1879 and is passionate to the cause of the colonials. (Yes, I am being sarcastic). But I really can’t imagine where else she could have read it. I’ve read over a thousand books, journals or articles about Aboriginal Australia and I’ve only seen it as a ‘matter of fact’ in Mr Blair’s book.

If Pauline was truly sincere and wanted to learn about Aborigines I would be more than happy to loan her one of my 80 or so text books that all contain one important element: the truth. In 2016 that’s what we prefer.




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  1. Carol Taylor

    In my opinion a person can be as racist as they like..and live with such bitterness, in fact they can wallow in it. But one thing that disgusts me are the chain letter type lies which try to convince the ignorant and/or undecided with racist lies.

  2. Kaye Lee

    Hanson told the media that the reason for these claims of cannibalism was to “demonstrate the savagery of Aboriginal society”. David Ettridge, the One Nation party director, said that the book’s claims were intended to correct “misconceptions” about Aboriginal history. These alleged misconceptions were said to be relevant to modern-day Aboriginal welfare funding. He asserted that “the suggestion that we should be feeling some concern for modern day Aborigines for suffering in the past is balanced a bit by the alternative view of whether you can feel sympathy for people who eat their babies”. The book predicted that in 2050 Australia would have a lesbian president of Chinese-Indian background called Poona Li Hung who would be a cyborg. In 2004, Hanson said that the book was “written by some other people who actually put my name to it” and that while she held the copyright over The Truth, she was unaware that much of the material was being published under her name.

  3. wam

    Thanks, NBT, for Hanna McGlade.
    When I was at high school the poem ‘I love a sunburnt country’ we were told Dorothea Mackellar witnessed Aboriginal cannibalism. In Darwin, you often hear how the Qld and NT Aborigines preferred the Chinese. So she is repeating racist stereotypes that have been around for living memory. This practice is a key into teaching racism to the youth and reinforcing it in the old. The ‘one size fits all’ is so deeply intrenched that governments have no hestitation in imposing sanctions on all Aborigines with no opportunity to opt out.
    Until the employment of public servants, including politicians, is dependent on a racism against Aborigines Australia will never be free from racism towards Aborigines.

  4. Zathras

    I recall hearing former ex-One Nation representative David Oldfield on his talk-back radio programme complaining about how a former Iranian refugee working as a Doctor in a Sydney Public Hospital was found to have Tuberculosis.

    He contacted the head of the Hospital and was told that the Doctor had contracted TB from a patient and did not “import” it but he continued to rant anyway.

    Likewise he alleged that unaccompanied children were being sent on boats so they could gain refugee status and then bring the rest of their family over. Again this was disproven on air by an official but he still insisted he was right.

    This was typical of his style and also typical of the One Nation ethos of demonisation and racial hatred, disguised as the public interest.

    The mention of cannibalism didn’t surprise me at the time and there will be much more to come.

    Their now empowered extremist hangers-on are already starting to make their moves.

  5. stephentardrew

    Who are the real sub-humans. Certainly people who peddle such veracious and disgusting lies have no sense of morality or social responsibility to the truth. Liars each and every one. They don’t seem to have a ounce of humanity to me. Hanson is a vile ignorant racist fool.

  6. Kyran

    As part of the ‘Wave Hill’ commemorations, Senator Pat Dodson launched a book, ‘Yijarni’.
    Having read your article and noting your reference to hanson’s truth, the parallel could not be more stark.
    “Yijarni — meaning “true” in Gurindji….”
    The item on the radio yesterday is published as “The untold story behind the 1966 Wave Hill Walk-Off”. It corroborates your ‘Honour’s thesis’ with graphic detail.
    The ‘cruel and treacherous savagery’ was indeed inflicted by savages. Hanson’s role reversal can not change that fact. In other articles, there is reference to Wave Hill today, which apparently only has one indigenous employee.

    “Mr McInnerney showed ABC Rural around the site, which is often visited by Indigenous elders from the nearby communities of Kalkarindji and Dagaragu.
    “We get quite a few of the local elders coming out to sit at the site of the old camp so they can tell their stories and pass the history on to the younger generations,” Mr McInnerney said.
    “It is something we are very keen to see continue, because it is part of the history [of the station];”


    The ‘Untold Story’ article is well worth a look. One part that struck me as so typical of our relationship with our First People is this passage;

    “Although Patrol Officer Ted Evans was involved in removing children, he found the process traumatic, as Maurie Ryan Japarta, who was taken to Retta Dixon Home and later Croker Island, discovered:

    “I was in time later to meet the person who removed me from my family and Wave Hill. Ironically, he was the president of my football club, the Wanderers … Ted Evans used to cry … and I thought he was crying because of the scores … I was sitting down there one night … and I said to Ted, ‘Look Ted, don’t worry you know. It’s only a game.’ … And he looked at me and he said, ‘Maurie, I’ve got to tell you something … I was the person that removed you from your family.’ I looked at him and he was still crying, and I just hugged him. I said, ‘It’s alright Ted. What you did is what public servants do today, you had to do a job.’ He said, ‘After I’d taken you and Bonnie, I’d never ever removed another person.'” — Maurie Ryan Japarta, 2015. (Yijarni, p. 132)”


    The ‘settlers truth’ is littered with ignorance and falsities, celebrated only by the most ignorant of people.
    It is met by our First People with a calm acceptance of the facts, and an apparent refusal to believe that such ignorance and falsity is a mark of the human spirit.
    We are indeed on a Long Walk. I remain hopeful that most would prefer to walk together, regardless of what that ignoramus, and her ilk, would have you believe.
    Thank you, Mr Taylor. Take care

  7. Michael Taylor

    Kaye, I wasn’t aware that Hanson had made that claim. It would leave egg on the publisher’s face knowing that they “acted in good faith”.

  8. Michael Taylor

    “Who were the real sub-humans?” I’m glad you asked that, Paul. It reminds me of something a lecturer said: “In the early 1800s when white settlers began occupying South Australia an Aboriginal man at West Lakes would kill three magpie geese in the morning, which would be enough to feed his family for a day. The rest of the day would be spent with family, relatives, and friends. The white man – who came from a country that still practiced child slave labour, was continually at war with other countries, that had extreme poverty, was riddled with diseases, that had oppressive conditions, etc etc – would point a finger at the Aborigine and scream “savages”. But who were the real savages?”

  9. Kaye Lee


    It came from a very interesting interview by Andrew Denton on Enough Rope in which Pauline admits that she didn’t even know the lunatics who ran for her party. That’s the trouble with Pauline, she is ripe pickings for those with loud ugly voices.


  10. Harquebus

    Back with a vengeance and in full fighting form.

    Where white man went wrong.

    View post on imgur.com

  11. benway

    A couple of weeks ago I read an old news story in which someone from the One Nation inner circle was quoted. From memory is was Ettridge. He is quoted saying that Hanson first heard about the supposed cannibalism from a man in the street, who was named, and then went on to quote this as fact during her next speech. Ettridge(?) was concerned that she did this without fact-checking, and said as much to her, to which she replied that the man who had told her the tale seemed like a nice bloke who wouldn’t have made it up. Hanson is then described as smiling about the publicity value regardless of the factual content……

    Interestingly, I have attempted in vain to re-locate this article. Granted, I am not completely tech-savvy, but even trawling through my browser history did not reproduce the link. I hope someone else can find it, if only to assure me that I am not crazy…….

    I have read other sources which state Hanson doesn’t read anything, but believes what people tell her in conversation.

  12. Michael Taylor

    benway, perhaps she needs to have a conversation with me. ?

  13. Kaye Lee


    I found this reference, not about Hanson but perhaps a source of her info?

    Hugh Morgan, as the chief executive officer of a mining corporation and former president of the Mining Industry Council, had material interests threatened by Aboriginal land rights. Morgan, a senior member of the Liberal Party, played an organising role in two rightwing think-tanks and was later, between 2003 and 2005, president of the Business Council of Australia, which brings together the CEOs of the largest public and private corporations in Australia. He denigrated Aboriginal culture, arguing that land rights would promote cannibalism and infanticide.

    Markus, Andrew, Race: John Howard and the remaking of Australia Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest 2001.

  14. Harquebus

    “Mr David Ettridge, One Notion’s national director claimed the book was intended to correct misconceptions about Aboriginal history: “The suggestion that we should be feeling concern for modern-day Aborigines for suffering in the past is balanced a little bit by the alternative view of whether you can feel sympathy for people who eat their babies.””

    Google search criteria:
    cannibalism pauline hanson

  15. Kaye Lee

    Morgan was first appointed to the RBA by the then treasurer, John Howard, in 1981, but dashed chances of a reappointment by making a speech on Aboriginal land rights in the capacity as President of the Mining Industry Council in May 1984.

    Morgan said: “For a Christian Aborigine, land rights or the proposed Heritage Protection Act is a symbolic step back to the world of paganism, superstition, fear and darkness.”

    He then equated mining with godliness (which sparked a war of words with the Anglican church) and suggested that any Aboriginal rights to land had been forfeited by past practices of “infanticide, cannibalism and cruel initiation”. Aborigines, he said, had shown a preference for “the particular flavour of the Chinese, who were killed and eaten in large numbers”.


  16. The AIM Network

    It amazes me how these miners are such experts on Aboriginal history and culture. They seem to know more than the anthropologists do. No wonder the government has appointed Twiggy Forrest as a consultant.

  17. lawrencewinder

    Interesting article and the comments are illuminating, too.

  18. Keitha Granville

    Goodness me Michael, the Truth would only get in the way of Hanson’s personal beliefs, she has to find some scraps of fairy tales to back herself up. Preferably the more fanciful the better. Any minute now she will be adopting the ” holocaust did not happen ” theories to back up her racist ideology.

  19. Kaye Lee

    Funny you should say that Keitha. From 2007….

    ONE Nation founder Pauline Hanson plans to share a platform with a prominent denier of the Holocaust and a well-known neo-Nazi activist.

    Ms Hanson will be a special guest next month [March 16–19] at the Inverell Forum [est. 1988], an annual talkfest in the NSW country town that has long been associated with right-wing extremist groups.

    Ms Hanson announced in December that she hoped to resurrect her political career by standing as a candidate in this year’s federal election.

    She will share the Inverell platform with Richard Krege, an Air Services Australia engineer who recently attended the Holocaust Conference in Tehran. The Iranian government-sponsored conference attempted to disprove the accepted historic fact that six million Jews were murdered by the Nazis during World War II.

    Mr Krege is regarded by fellow Holocaust deniers as an expert on the notorious Treblinka concentration camp, in Poland. Although 800,000 Jews and others died there, he claims just 5000 perished of disease and none were killed.

    The Inverell Forum website said the gathering would discuss the “current Zionist propaganda campaign designed to condition the public to accept the inevitable first attack on Iran”.

    Ms Hanson will also share the platform with Welf Herfurth, a long-time activist with Germany’s neo-Nazi National Democratic Party [est. 1964] before he moved to Sydney.

    [NB. Herfurth moved to Australia in 1987. He was also (allegedly) at one time the vice-president of the New South Wales state branch (under David Oldfield) of ONP; he was certainly president of ONP’s Riverstone branch, making Hanson and Herfurth old kameraden.]

    Mr Herfurth will address the forum on “what other nationalists outside Germany can learn from the NPD’s practical approach to politics and creating a parallel society”.

    Other speakers at the forum include James Cook University academic Bob Carter, a leading global warming sceptic.

    Ms Hanson could not be reached for comment yesterday.

    The forum will hear how “recent events in Australia have galvanised her once more into taking up the cudgel for patriotic Australia”.

  20. Tony Ridler

    If it weren’t, for the fabrication of lies, the truth could never be unveiled-;#ApocalypseHow

  21. Kyran

    “perhaps she needs to have a conversation with me”
    Why, Mr Taylor, would you waste your time on such as this?
    “Come take a walk with me
    Let’s pretend we’re just two people and
    You’re not better than me
    I’d like to ask you some questions if we can speak honestly.”


    “How do you sleep while the rest of us cry
    How do you dream when a mother has no chance to say goodbye
    How do you walk with your head held high
    Can you even look me in the eye
    And tell me why.”


    “You’d never take a walk with me
    Would you”.
    She will sleep, oblivious to tears or dreams. She will hold her head up high, oblivious to tears or dreams.
    Why would you waste your time on the likes of her?
    My guess is that the 2017 referendum won’t happen.
    My worry is that it never will. As long as the likes of her are the conversation piece, the real issues can be ignored.
    My wish is that I am wrong. Thanks again. Take care

  22. Fedup

    How can anyone actually dispute it? Most Native tribes from all countries were wild/feral in their nature. Aborigines are no more different that Native Americans or any other black native race. You can’t dispute it or prove it! Any of you! In today’s world it’s hard to believe but thousands of years ago it probably was a ritualistic practice. We don’t know, so stop assuming it didn’t happen as well as assuming it did! To me it’s just another attack on Pauline Hanson.

  23. Michael Taylor

    “How can anyone dispute it?”

    Quite easily. With facts.

    “It’s just another attack on Pauline Hanson”.

    Yet you’re quite willing to attack Indigenous Australians with a whole heap of bullshit.

    You, and Ms Hanson, obviously know a lot more about Australian Aborigines than every historian, anthropologist and archaeologist that has studied Aboriginal culture over the last 100 plus years. If there’s something you know that they don’t, please tell us. Please produce the evidence.

  24. Carol Taylor

    And of course “native tribes” are so different to “civilised” nations who only engage in flaggelation, burning at the stake, slavery of multiple nations, destruction of one might say, the entire planet.

    It is acknowledged that contrary to white destruction of the land that the Aboriginal people were ‘the great conservationists’.

  25. Fedup

    Me attacking someone? I don’t think so and I am certainly not attacking the Aboriginal people! Seeing as the Aboriginal people have no written language as such there is little way of you proving or disproving it also. You people don’t miss a beat trying to discredit Pauline on just about everything! I can only guess that every Historian, anthropologist and archaeologist are white too! How many aborigines are amongst these so called experts!

  26. Fedup

    We are not talking about years ago but thousands of years ago! 100 plus years ago? In my book that’s hardly history. Modern history maybe, but not HISTORY!

  27. Michael Taylor

    It is obvious you’re not worth debating with. I can’t compete with your superior knowledge.

  28. Carol Taylor

    Fedup, I get the impression that your version of ‘history’ has been gleaned from watching too much television. Did you know for example that Native Americans who you mention @7.44am did not take scalps until this practice was introduced by Europeans? Have you heard about coup sticks? Perhaps you might try googling and you will find out how many Native Americans waged war. Perhaps you might also read about the Belgians in the Congo whose ‘bounty’ consisted of severed hands which were then boiled and exhibited as trophies. Then you can start arguing about who is the ‘savage’ and who is not.

  29. Möbius Ecko

    Fedup at 8:06 am

    Methinks you misread what Michael Taylor actually stated in his post.

  30. Fedup

    Surprise, surprise Carol, I actually did know that!

  31. Annie B

    It occurs to me that someone may have whispered in peurile paulines’ ear, something he/she read or heard about cos he/she knew PH was anti-Aboriginal – a little red headed racist. The chick from the north, then went off on her usual raving bent – to speak of cannibalism by Australian Aboriginals. … in the shortest, most awful way possible. ” they ate their babies”.

    Then again – ( perhaps ) she persuaded someone who knows how to use a computer !! … to ‘google’ it all for her, and then made her wild pronouncement. She knew it would get her publicity, somewhere or other. …So now we await the next inane and inflammatory statement from Hanson, after she mounted the steps of Parliament House and threw two words and a large grin, to her paparazzi admirers …. “I’m back”.

    Well, I googled ” cannibalism – Australian Aboriginals ” … thinking ( honestly ) that I would find more that slammed the theory to hell, than what I did find. … I should have known better. 188 separate entries to do with that search criteria. One does not have to read every or any article – the short precis under each published item is enough, and I am guessing, considering the types of urls’ shown that most of it was of shock value blogs – and not much more.

    Being an inveterate treacle beak, I then googled ” cannibalism among white people” …. ( ” About 259,000 results (0.43 seconds)” ). ?? ….. Europe figured largely on the first 2 pages, and on page 3, EVERY item reverted back to Australian Aboriginals and cannibalism. That is when I left the scene.

    This is the trouble with all this internet highway info. … some people grab tiny bits of information – all out of context, and make a large story or article out of it – ( similar to what the Murderoch press do ). And in the hands of the wrong people – a-la Pauline H – or conspiracy theorists, or just plain evil racists, bigots or bods with big chips on shoulders, a fire is lit, with no water to put it out. ….

    It is possible that some cannibalism existed at some stage of the original inhabitants of this land, in their 60,000 year history. … Or even up to, and after the invasion of whites. … I base that comment, on the premise of the extraordinary amount of general ‘information’ about the history of this vile practice.

    *** Michael …. It has not been my intention in this comment, to in any way, dispute your intensive research and work on your thesis. …. Rather to point up how simple it can be, to make something out of small notations – into something that mostly, bears little or no resemblance to the truth – on any matter. ….

    Search engines should revisit the way they present items for research. … seriously.

  32. cornlegend

    Michael Taylor
    I think Ms Hanson will give you ample opportunity for articles, and it’s gonna be a long hard slog:-D
    I went up to see a couple of friends doing their “Senate School” and lo and behold , the ones that the tourists and visitors were seeking out for autographs were Pauline and her little team of elected lawmakers {as was every Media in the joint}
    The Herald {I think} reported
    “Pauline Hanson had just two words to say when she arrived at Parliament House: “I’m back.”

    Flanked by her One Nation workmates Malcolm Roberts, Rodney Culleton and Brian Burston, the group took their place beside other new faces such as Derryn Hinch, Skye Kakoschke-Moore, from the Nick Xenophon Team, and returnee, Labor’s Louise Pratt.

    Official group photographs hardly make the most convivial setting for people to get to know each other but Senator Kakoschke-Moore made a beeline for Senator Hanson while Senator Pratt stood with Labor colleagues Pat Dodson and Malarndirri McCarthy.”
    Add to that the LNP looking like a collective of foxes in fowlhouses and it should be slow going and fun times ahead.

  33. Freethinker

    FedupAugust 23, 2016 at 7:44 am said, quote:
    How can anyone actually dispute it? Most Native tribes from all countries were wild/feral in their nature. Aborigines are no more different that Native Americans or any other black native race end of quote

    Reading your posts I know well who is so ignorant that reflect a feral who has being living in a cave.
    The knowledge of the aborigines, indians and natives around the world is so powerful that put your level well bellow them.

    No point in debate with you.

    My apologies to the AIMN moderators team, but I cannot be silencein this issue.

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