Thursday, June 02, 2005


Keith Windschuttle has a long and detailed article on Australia's history derived from the original documents. Below I grab just a few excerpts

Unless they have taken a course in history in recent decades, most Australians would be surprised to learn they inhabit one of the world's most shamefully racist countries. The historical consensus today is that the White Australia Policy -- a series of restrictions on non-white immigrants dating from the gold rushes of the 1850s, culminating in the Commonwealth's Immigration Restriction Bill of 1901 -- made this country the moral equivalent of South Africa under apartheid. Some historians even label Australia at Federation one of the 'herrenvolk democracies'. 'Herrenvolk' is the German term for 'master race', so those historians who use it are making a direct comparison between Australian attitudes and the racial nationalism of Nazi Germany.

Apart from two incidents on the goldfields in 1857 and 1861, there was no serious mob violence in Australia perpetrated by whites against non-whites. In both of the goldfields cases, colonial governments defended the Chinese victims, compensated them for their losses and took action against the white perpetrators.

The greatest enthusiasts for White Australia, and the genuine racists of the time, were the members of the late nineteenth century republican Left, especially its writers, artists and other intellectuals. Their strongest opponents were traditional liberals, the purported reactionaries of their era who supported free enterprise against the growing power of the state.

Social Darwinism, rather than being a widely-accepted theory as claimed by historians, was something few Australians at the time had even heard of. Its adherents were a small group of intellectuals at the extremes of opinion. In the 1880s, they were the followers of the theories of political economy of Herbert Spencer. In the 1910s and 1920s, the theory was most strongly advocated by members of the Victorian Socialist Party.

I found one of the biggest single inventions in all Australian historiography. It was made by Henry Reynolds in his book The Other Side of the Frontier. He claimed that, before Federation in 1901, a total of 10,000 Aborigines had been killed by white settlers in Queensland. The source he provided as evidence of this was an article of his own called 'The Unrecorded Battlefields of Queensland', which he wrote in 1978. But if you look up the article you find something very strange. It is not about Aboriginal deaths at all. It is a tally of the number of whites killed by Aborigines. Nowhere does it mention an Aboriginal death toll of 10,000. Reynolds invented this figure and then gave a false citation to disguise what he had done.

Lyndall Ryan says the so-called 'Black War' of Tasmania began in the winter of 1824 with the Big River tribe launching patriotic attacks on the invaders. However, the assaults on whites that winter were made by a small gang of detribalized blacks led by a man named Musquito, who was not defending his tribal lands. He was an Aborigine originally from Sydney who had worked in Hobart for ten years before becoming a bushranger. He had no Tasmanian tribal lands to defend

Lyndall Ryan cites the Hobart Town Courier as a source for several stories about atrocities against Aborigines in 1826. However, that newspaper did not begin publication until October 1827 and the other two newspapers of the day made no mention of these alleged killings.

Lloyd Robson claims the settler James Hobbs in 1815 witnessed Aborigines killing 300 sheep at Oyster Bay and the next day the 48th Regiment killed 22 Aborigines in retribution. It would have been difficult for Hobbs to have witnessed this in 1815 because at the time he was living in India. Moreover, the first sheep did not arrive at Oyster Bay until 1821


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