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“They’re going to die out anyway”

The video of Lang Hancock’s disgusting proposal to what he believed was the “Aboriginal problem” is again 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.

For those who missed the link to Hancock’s vile proposal …


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  1. Jack Cade

    Lang Hancock was an ugly, ugly man. Physically and morally. He reportedly freely ‘utilised’ indigenous women, to the extent that Gina – W.C. Fields in a dress, has more than one indigenous sibling.
    Rinehart is such an unpleasant creature that her own father said ‘She is her own punishment.’ What an indictment!

  2. Shane Mortimer

    The video is called “Utopia” by John Pilger and it is really worth seeing, because if anything, conditions and ethnic-Anglo attitudes are worse today than ever.

    Watch ABC TV National News tomorrow from 7.30am all day and see what is proposed and approved by the CEO of the National Capital Authority and Chief Planner to destroy a 400 million year old site. The Federal Environment Minister The Hon. Minister Susan Ley MP has discretionary power to stop this at her fingertips.

  3. Andrew J. Smith

    Good article about a terrible part of Australia’s ‘DNA’ which still exists. Eugenics went hand in hand with empire, colonialism and WASP exceptionalism. The socio-Darwinism link was developed by Darwin’s own cousin (?) Galton:

    ‘Francis Galton and the History of Eugenics at UCL. The shadow of Sir Francis Galton looms large over UCL. Francis Galton is the most famous and influential Victorian scientist you’ve never heard of. He coined the term eugenics and endowed UCL with his personal collection and archive, along with a bequest which funded the country’s first professorial Chair of Eugenics.’

    Francis Galton and the History of Eugenics at UCL

    According to the Eugenics Archive (eugenics.ca) on the stolen generations:

    ‘Legislation governing the procreation of Aboriginal people suited an ideological commitment to whiteness in Australia, and is roughly coterminous with the White Australia Policy (1901-1966), which limited immigration to British and Northern European migrants.’

    Interesting how eugenics evolves over time, post WWII polling showed that majority of Australians were opposed to Catholic and/or Irish plus Jewish immigration. Nowadays it’s manifested in constant dog whistling, fringe demographics and obsessions about ‘population growth’ (influenced by Paul ‘population bomb’ Ehrlich and white nationalist John ‘most influential unknown man in America’ Tanton of ZPG), white nationalism, the great replacement theory, bi-partisan immigration policy or announcements, mainstream media and ‘post 1970s’ immigrants, wink wink.

  4. Michael Taylor

    Thanks Andrew. Much appreciated.

    I think it was the writings of Herbert Spencer that Social Darwinism grew from. It was actually Spencer who coined the term “survival of the fittest,” which is wrongly accredited to Darwin.

    From my research on Spencer for my Honours thesis, all I can say (and all I can remember 😳) was that he was a nasty prick.

  5. Andrew J. Smith

    They were all nasty narcissistic pricks 🙂 Interesting area and how it plays out nowadays, still obsessed about by many in the ‘Anglospehere’, on class or the pecking order versus ‘skin colour’ as the world becomes browner. However, I know personally many in or from the Victorian bush who either know or assume some indigenous heritage; think Pilger quoted Charlie Perkins who once claimed 70% any old 19C pastoral families would have indigenous bloodlines 🙂

  6. New England Cocky

    Uhm …. the Australian irony of this article is the link between Isaac Isaacs CJ, a Jewish lawyer from Beechworth Victoria who was such an effective advocate for eugenics as applied to “the Australian Aboriginal Problem”, that he was credited with disenfranchising Aborigines in South Australia who had been granted the vote in 1892 together with women, when the Australian Constitution was finally presented for Royal Approval by Queen Victoria.

    Sitting as judge alone in the High Court of Australia about 1906, Isaacs dismissed the appeal by a South Australian aboriginal man in about two pages. So began the state sponsored genocidal policies in all legal jurisdictions on the Australin land mass.

    The obvious link to the eugenic policies of the German National Socialist policies after the democratic election of Hitler in 1933 and his subsequent rise to dictator in 1935 are too well known today.

  7. Florence

    People do you know he had a Indigenous daughter.

  8. Michael Taylor

    Irony? In my post, NEC? Surely you jest.

  9. Michael Taylor

    I didn’t know that, Florence. Wow.

  10. Kathy

    What an unspeakably disgusting vile creature Hancock was! A nauseating, pig-ignorant, uneducated bogan who was a despised misogynist, a totally corrupt right-wing extremist up to his red-neck in depravity and a committed xenophobic racist. Hancock was a despised monster who’s only claim to fame was that his plane got diverted and flew over iron-ore rich land that he claimed that, in fact, rightly belonged to the aboriginal community anyway! This appalling degenerate used and abused countless vulnerable aboriginal women spreading his demon seed everywhere! His revolting, non-taxpaying parasite of a daughter, the notorious Gina Rinehart, is absolute PROOF that the callously inhumane, self-serving, corrupt acorn NEVER falls far from the rotten tree!

  11. Matters Not

    Lots of concepts are inter-related. Even some in current usage (still considered ‘useful’) have less than ‘pure’ backgrounds.

    Historically, psychology’s notion of intelligence is entangled with that of eugenics. The idea that intelligence is a unitary graded psychological trait that can be quantified goes back to Galton, and the development and use of intelligence testing was popularized as a tool to implement eugenic measures.

    Often comes as a surprise because it rarely receives a mention. Lots of famous Australians were into eugenics as were NAZIS etc. Hence the importance of ‘history’ – however defined.


  12. Kerri

    What a shame Lang didn’t follow his own sterility plan?
    Or better still, if his parents had “supplemented” water?
    There’s two examples to justify a retrospective abortion!

  13. wam

    I have been so lucky to have had over 30 years of classes all with the x-section of darwin ethnic groups plus Kormilda and Retta Dixon young men and women and over 50 years
    The range was from the segregation era where the parents had run foul of the cohabiting laws. and had been reported and gaoled. Where one night stands, prostitution and casual sex with or without permission were ‘blind eyed’. It was not unusual to read horror stories of itinerants being murdered in a time where burnt corks were a living memory and where many Aborigines had to deny their Aboriginal heritage to avoid the segregation and protection laws. However they couldn’t avoid the racism and discrimination.
    I have a golf friend whose claim to fame when playing for the hawks was getting shirtfronted by ted whitten and he said he was black and blue for the week he agrees with lord that they never say Aborigines in melbourne?. They were there but invisible and not considered because they were a dying race. My mum used to say why they would die out was because there were no throw backs like african.blacks. B Tipaloura, teacher friend, me and my dad were on the verandah when dad blurted out of the blue don’t worry you were white like us. But my dad in hislate 60s had never met Tiwi slanders as black as lord’s silky black Africans.. The diversity of shapes, colours, culture and language all adds up to atoo hard to understand for non-Aboriginal Australians and gives nothing for the Aborigines to push into the education and political systems, like Maori or South Africa Indeed they have lost their ‘Aborigine’ in favour of Indigenes via ATSI.
    I don’ know how but society has to see our racism before we can accept our racist institutions.

  14. B Sullivan

    Do you recall when PM John Howard refused to do his duty as PM and issue a government apology to the stolen generations? It triggered a wave of defence of the reasons for the policy with the excuse that because it was believed that aborigines were in the process of becoming extinct then the removal of their children was seen as a virtuous attempt to save some of them. A ‘good intentions’ excuse.

    To my annoyance, no one ever responded to this excuse with the question. “Why didn’t they try to save all of them, adults as well?” I dare say they would have had some excuse based upon their beliefs as to why they couldn’t save people over a particular age. Maybe, like today, they felt that for the sake of the economy they had to draw a line somewhere, but the very excuse is still a condemnation.

    According to the standards of the United Nations it still counts as genocide if a regime simply allows people to die out because they believe it is inevitable.

    Genocide is a fact of Australian history whether we subscribe to it or not. As is slavery. For goodness sake, what is forced convict labour if not slavery? We don’t mince words talking about slave labour in other regimes Failure to talk about these things won’t change the fact that they happened..

    By the way Michael, as Kathy has pointed out, Lang Hang was a right wing extremist so his genocidal idea should not be described as sinister but dexter. Unfortunately our language is biased against the left.

  15. Terence Mills

    It’s a feature of capitalism that a man can stumble across deposits of iron ore, badger the state government to give him exclusive mining rights to the exclusion of pre-existing native title rights – at that time there was a Commonwealth Government embargo on the export of iron ore, while the Government of Western Australia banned the pegging of claims for iron ore – and become massively wealthy while excluding the traditional owners from benefiting from their own resources.

    Let’s not forget the other contribution that Lang Hancock bestowed on the nation. He was said to have discovered asbestos at Wittenoom Gorge where he staked a claim in 1934 and began mining blue asbestos there in 1938. He sold 51% of the mine in 1943 to CSR and their subsidiary,James Hardie, the rest is a history.

    When asbestos was subsequently identified as a carcinogen there were allegations that the companies engaged in the mining deliberately did not mark their company names on asbestos-laden products so that they could conceal which company manufactured them – a move which was designed to make it harder to identify which company had liability for future claims of potential injury or disease.

    Thanks a lot Hancock !

  16. Phil Pryor

    There have been so many human skinfuls of reeking shit infesting Australian history and L Hancock is merely one of a depressing lot. Much more can come out and hopefully will, as we seek to understand, analyse, investigate, open up. Jack Howard, a miniscule mentality, always embraced a stupidity of dogma, a racist, supremacist (so ugly) attitude to the imagined glory of the British Empire, which had simple basic policies of murder, theft, oppression, occupation, exploitation, domineering, infection, humiliation, SIN.

  17. Lorraine Muller

    The ongoing practice of trying to dictate who is or isn’t Indigenous Australian is a continuation of the genocidal intent outlined here.
    On one hand by declaring a person isn’t black enough to be Aboriginal and or Torres Strait Islander, yet blaming that same genetic heritage when it suits, is one of domination and control, but also one of genocide as Indigenous identity is denied.

  18. Michael Taylor

    Lorraine, you’ve given me the idea of another post.

  19. Josephus

    The revolting stupidity of this toadlike man and his greedy young wife remind me of a 1938 Nazi novel I read and analysed a while ago . Its title was ‘Eurofrika Die Macht der Zukunft’. It imagines a German led united Europe that has colonised northern and central Africa in about 2050. The natives have been exterminated , eg under the rushing waters of new dam construction.The Germans move in and create flowery gardens where once were deserts or jungle.

    Obviously Hancock echoes the racism of the Nazis as they emptied eastern Europe of non aryans and sent in settler families . And not much different either from how the whites treated the first nations here. I personally fervently wish Hancock and his ilk the most rapid extinction possible.

  20. Brozza

    Nothing’s changed.
    A-butt(head), twiggy, gina, the current fed. gummint, etc etc, even scummo when it made the appointment of ‘special envoys’.
    Lang Han-on-cock would have been right at home in colonial Tasmania where genocide was unofficial policy from pommyland.

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