Future of aboriginal Australians

Problems such as alcoholism and drugs are proportionately higher among Aboriginal youth. The health problems of Aboriginal communities are worse

Future of aboriginal Australians


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he recruitment of Aboriginal mounted police from the most brutalised group of young males from tribal remnants, who were unleashed by white colonial society on tribes other than their own, with a licence and encouragement to kill. Some of these ugly episodes are covered in Bill Rosser's moving book Up Rode the Troopers, The Black Police in Queensland (Queensland University Press, 1990).


Sheehan loathes critical Australian historians


The following short piece of purple prose is from the second-last page of Sheehan's book:

"Thirty years of poisoning of the nation's history has taken its toll. Many histories now parrot a hatred of Australia. The politically-motivated accusations of racism, made hollow by overuse, have been pumped up to include 'genocide' and 'holocaust'. The mud has stuck. The nation's sense of certainty at the end of the century has been eroded by the politics of stealth and division."

Well, at the risk of incuring Mr Sheehan's displeasure by further poisoning the nation's history, as he puts it, I hereby read into the record some material from a historian, Sir Hudson Fysh, of whom Sheehan possibly approves.


The brutal butcher Kennedy and Sir Hudson Fysh


From the more civilised standpoint that is now happily accepted by most Australians, it is quite difficult to remember just how barbaric was the conquest of Australia from its original inhabitants, and how sickening the celebration of this conquest by British White Australia up until very recent times. I recently acquired at a book fair a standard piece of the Australiana of the 1930s, a book Taming the North by Hudson Fysh (Angus and Robertson, 1933), later Sir Hudson Fysh, the founder of Qantas.

The version I have is the revised and enlarged edition published in March 1950. This book ought to be reprinted as a reminder of the brazen way British White Australia justified its ruthless suppression of all Aboriginal resistance to conquest. The book is a biography of the quite famous squatter, Alexander Kennedy, the Scottish settler who "opened up" the area north and west of Cloncurry for white settlement.

This area was the tribal land of the warlike Kalkadoons. After the Kalkadoons had been constantly provoked by the squatters pushing further and further into every corner of their tribal lands, they finally speared a couple of the most offensive intruders. The vengeance of the bloodthirsty squatters, aided by the native police, led by the notoriously vicious F.C. Urquhart, who ended up Queensland Police Commissioner, was absolutely awesome.

Using their superior firepower, they wiped out several hundred Kalkadoons. What is most amazing about these brutal incidents is the unctuous and brutally frank way Sir Hudson Fysh describes them and other events in this war of extermination against the Kalkadoons and praises the bloodthirsty Kennedy and Urquhart.

The illustrations and the cover of the book are also extraordinary expressions of the ideology of conquest that pervaded British Australia. These illustrations portray the "rugged and manly" white settlers, with their carbines, pursuing and shooting the "naked savages". Fysh routinely repeats, as if they were true, the fairy stories about Aboriginal cannibalism. He says:

There is no doubt that the blacks right through northern Queensland were cannibals. Urquhart says that his boys always told him the blacks did not like the taste of whites much they were too salt but they relished Chinamen, hundreds of whom were killed when taking provisions across the Peninsula to the Palmer River goldfield in the early days following its discovery by Mulligan. This fact was put down to the salt-beef diet of the early whites, while the Chinamen lived mainly on rice.

The following extracts from Fysh's book celebrate several of the massacres.

At last, Eglington, the white officer in charge, arrived on the scene and soon the situation was under control. A brush with the murderers ensued and many of the natives were killed, the rest making their escape to the rough country. Kennedy returned about this time and asked Eglington if he thought he had got all the murderers. "Yes," said Eglington.

"Did you get a piebald black?" asked Kennedy.

"No," was the answer.

"Well, come along. That fellow is one of a mob that I have had my eye on for a long time a cheeky trouble-making chap. We shan't be safe now till they are out of the district."

A long trip into the hills followed, the native police hot on the trail and Kennedy as keen as the rest. A yell of defiance was heard, the pursuers were discovered by the retreating party and hurled threats from their supposed safety in the rugged hilly country. However, they did not reckon on the deadly carbines of the whites and the native troopers, who speedily shot the warlike bucks down.

The piebald lay dead. He was a most peculiar freak, normal in physique, build, and intelligence, but his dusky skin was patched here and there with healthy, pinkish-white areas.


A later massacre


Kennedy was filled with a fierce rage and urged the speedy following up of the murderers. This was the last straw. The killing of his cattle was bad enough, but the loss of his partner ... showed that nothing but a terrible lesson would suffice. ...

The blacks were finally located in a gorge and, though showing some hostility at first by hurling spears in an attempt to stay the approach of the party, they broke and fled at the first sign of rifle fire. There were natives behind boulders, behind trees, and up trees, and every now and then they made attempts to sneak away to better cover when the opportunity occurred. One small party got away over the spur of a hill, being assisted in their flight by the cracking of the carbines, which stirred up the dust around their feet. Kennedy borrowed Urquhart's horse, Hamlet, and went off in pursuit. ... Kennedy was like hell let loose that day ...

Some natives who had remained in hiding bobbed up here and there as they made a dash for better cover. One fellow jumped up from behind a boulder and raced for the nearest creek, and Kennedy, who was on foot at the time, sprang after him. Reaching the steep bank the native jumped into the water, meaning to make for the opposite bank. As Kennedy reached the edge he took careful aim with his carbine, but the weapon failed to go off. Hurling the carbine in after the native, Kennedy jumped into the water, and commenced to grapple with his enemy.

Urquhart fired just in time to prevent serious consequences, for Kennedy could not swim. Two of Urquhart's boys went into the water and brought Kennedy ashore. It took the boys two hours' diving to recover the carbine.

The self-righteous Urquhart even wrote an execrable poem celebrating the second massacre! Hudson Fysh's interest in Kennedy stemmed largely from the fact that Kennedy was one of his first investors in Qantas, and there is a picture in the book of Kennedy as an old man in 1931 getting out of one of the early Qantas planes. Never has Karl Marx's aphorism that modern capitalism comes upon the scene "bloody in tooth and claw" been more clearly demonstrated than in the reverent way Hudson Fysh writes about the bloodthirsty Kennedy.

In a very real sense, part of the initial capital to develop the pioneer Australian airline, Qantas, was surplus value derived from this conquest and massacre, that is, from the blood of the murdered Kalkadoons. In my view, as an act of long overdue historical recognition and repentance, Qantas should be renamed Kalkadoon.

No doubt Paul Sheehan has been reduced to appoplexy by recent news that Professor Colin Tatz, director of the Centre for Comparative Genocide Studies at Macquarie University, has prepared a general brief against previous Australian governments for genocide on four major grounds. One of these is that the colonial authorities stood by or authorised settlers or police to slaughter 4000 Aborigines in Tasmania from 1806 to 1835, and some 10,000 in Queensland between 1824 and 1908.


P.P. McGuiness, as an "expert" on Aboriginal affairs


The editor of Quadrant and Sydney Morning Herald columnist, the irascible, arrogant, pompous and chronically self-congratulatory P.P. McGuiness, has in recent times appointed himself as a bit of a pundit on Aboriginal affairs. One of his preoccupations is ridiculing all notions of past genocide, which is a pretty tall order, considering all the evidence for past massacres of which the incidents recounted above are only a few many of which have been documented by Henry Reynolds.

McGuinness associates this rejection of past genocide against Aborigines with throwaway remarks questioning the genocide involved in the recent massacres of Kosovar Albanians and East Timorese. He seems to have a particular soft spot for the "civil rights" of "alleged" practitioners of genocide such as the white British conquerors of Australia, the Serbian dictator Milosevic and the Indonesian military. To each their own!

McGuinness's other unpleasant obsession is his ridicule of the notion that thousands of Aboriginal children were stolen from their parents. He claims that (1) it wasn't a matter of government policy, despite Robert Manne's documentation of national meetings of public servants in Aboriginal affairs, where such lines of policy were implicitly endorsed, and (2) he ignores or ridicules the personal testimony of the many hundreds of Aboriginals wh

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