War against Aboriginals
Tasmania and Australia are built on racism. It has been the founding principle our national existence has depended upon. There was a grand oral assumption that Aboriginals were unequal as people to their white British superiors, and that therefore they had no legal rights as human beings to the land they had lived on for thousands of years.
This racism was an extension of British attitudes towards class and was the justification for use of military force in taking Australia.
The same principles of liberal economic rationalism that drove British enclosure, strengthened with a profound racism, also drove the attempted genocide of Aboriginals in Tasmania and their dispossession from traditional hunting grounds. It was these premises upon which Tasmania and, later, the whole nation were built.
These racist attitudes are clearly evident in British government actions, actions of the early governors, actions of the general populace and in the scientific views of the day. They are consistently present in the newspaper records.
Please click here to read or download Chapter 6 from the book “War against Aboriginals” .
Please click here to read or download Chapter 24 from the book “Treaty Yeah!” .
This fundamental recognition of Aboriginals as equal people with a legitimate legal and moral right to Australia after occupying it for many thousands of years, along with acknowledgement of the murderous war waged against them and dispossession of their means of livelihood, will ultimately be necessary if the relationship is to proceed on the basis of mutual respect and dignity.
North of the Tropic of Capricorn Australia has many hallmarks of a ‘failed state’ by western standards with its plethora of disastrous third world social and health outcomes. Despite some genuine good intent across politics, poor governance, despite opportunities, has failed to facilitate some of the success stories of indigenous enterprise that have occurred in New Zealand, for example.
The tyranny of distance means that effective provision of services decays with distance away from major centres, exposing a nation that claimed a vast land, but also a nation that cannot govern properly for its people.
Attending to the urgent disadvantage in education, health and general welfare is critical at a social justice level but without restoration of cultural dignity and the development of true respect and equality demonstrated in a Treaty such as in the USA, Canada and New Zealand, true reconciliation will not happen.
Many Australians, including former Prime Ministers know this, but also understand the level of political courage required to achieve it when pitted against conservatism born of fear, entrenched interests and attitudes from the past. The race card has also been played to political advantage in Australia on numerous occasions taking us all backwards.
Education makes a difference, racist behaviour and attitudes are subject to change as demonstrated in many school programs and cultures across the country. There have been painfully small steps taken in this direction in Tasmania with both sides of politics demonstrating some understanding of the deep issues involved, but widespread indifference and racism are all too common.
National integrity will only be achievable when its core values around the equality of people are integrated into and consistent with the reality of practice within the nation’s laws, institutions and peoples’ behaviour.