Monthly Archives: July 2015

Cooking up a storm for Cooking for Copyright

Here’s my little contribution to Cooking for Copyright Day.


They’re Ruby Borrowdale’s Rolled Oat Biscuits and the recipe made mountains of the things.  As you’ll see, Ms Borrowdale has given us a very…um….stripped-back recipe consisting merely of ingredients with nairy a mention of method or cooking instructions. (was there another page I wonder?) I melted the generous quantity of butter and added it to the other ingredients and cooked at 180C for about 12 minutes.

So who was Ruby Borrowdale and why I am posting a picture of her biscuits? (not cookies, note!)  Ruby Borrowdale was Queensland’s best known cookery expert.  From 1932 she was the Chief Instructress, and later the superintendent of the test kitchen at Simpson Brothers, well-known Queensland manufacturers of flour and baking powder. Simpson Brothers published an annual cooking book featuring their baking products.  The John Oxley library have produced a video on Ruby and their collection of the Borrowdale papers.

She also wrote a weekly cooking column under the name of Patricia Dale for the Brisbane Telegraph and wrote columns for other regional  newspapers. If you do a Google search, you’ll find much reference to her book The Golden Circle Tropical Recipe Book which I can only imagine would be the source of much merriment today for its imaginative use of pineapple rings and beetroot  (as you can see in this blog here).  She also featured on the radio and was the first Queensland cook to appear on television.

But why my sudden interest in Ruby Borrowdale and Queensland cuisine? Ruby Borrowdale’s recipes are featured as part of the FAIR (Freedom of Access to Information and Resources) campaign today regarding the status of unpublished manuscripts in Australian libraries, museums and historical societies. Unlike in other countries, in Australia,  copyright on unpublished sources lasts forever.  As a point of comparison, in Canada and New Zealand it is the life of the author plus 50 years and in the EU generally it’s the life of the author plus 70 years.  In the UK, works unpublished by 1989 whose authors died before 1969 will be in copyright until 2039, and otherwise it is life plus 70 years.  In US it is also life plus 70 years, or 120 years where the author is unknown.

FAIR are campaigning for all published and unpublished works in Australia to have the same copyright term, in line with international norms.  As part of their campaign today, they have broken copyright by posting recipes on their website and ask people to bake them and photograph their efforts  — hence the rolled oat biscuits above.  Of course, ironies abound:  the YouTube video above was produced by the John Oxley library which holds the Borrowdale collection and uses images of published works but none of their manuscript collection. And, strictly speaking, given that Ruby Borrowdale died in 1997, her works would still be in copyright anyway (although she may have granted it to the library perhaps?).

Ah, but it’s all a new world, isn’t it, and this provision is ridiculous and out of line with international practice.  So, please,  have a biscuit or two for Cooking for Copyright Day.

‘Savage or Civilized? Manners in Colonial Australia’ by Penny Russell

You may remember a number of years back when Prime Minister Paul Keating had the audacity to place his hand on Her Majesty’s back to gently steer her in a crowd.


He was quickly dubbed “The Lizard of Oz” by the English press, always quick to jump on colonial brashness with a snort of derision at ex-convict temerity (a taunt which carries little significance in Australia itself).  Historically, however, the colonial/convict trope was far more influential, as demonstrated in Penny Russell’s book Savage or Civilized? Manners in Colonial Australia.

This book is about the complicated rules and the even more complicated lived experience of colonial manners (p 5)….Manners are not only about the different observances of form and ritual that make a past (or a foreign) society seem quaintly strange.  They are also about the ways we acknowledge and respect the humanity of others, extending due consideration to their feelings, preferences, prejudices and sense of how things should be done.  The ultimate rudeness is to deny a fellow human being that degree of consideration. (p. 14)

Not everybody cared about manners, but this book concentrates on those who did.  It explores what she calls four ‘contexts’: the pastoral frontier; convict society; the domestic world and the new public space that opened up in the the latter part of the nineteenth century.  The book is not necessarily chronological, as these ‘contexts’ were continuous throughout the late eighteenth and nineteenth century time period, but there is nonetheless a chronological trajectory in the narrative.  She describes this as “layered” rather than chronological, and is at pains to stress that she is not discussing the rules of civility as spelled out by the imported ‘politeness’ literature that flooded the empire, but instead looks at

how manners affected the daily lives of individuals, how they played out not in principle but in practice, not in precept but in people. (p 13)

In other words, the sort of history I enjoy most.


2010, 362 p.

In Part One, she starts on the frontier, that site of colonial theatricality so well explored in Inga Clendinnen’s Dancing With Strangers.  Handshakes, in particular, are the focus of attention (as they are also in Tiffany Shellam’s Shaking Hands on the Fringe). In each section, she presents a small number of characters to exemplify the arguments she is making, almost as if she is bringing them onto the stage for us.  Robert Dawson was an employee of the Australian Agricultural Society who was viewed as a “good man” and the author of The Present State of Australia in 1830 where he sought to rescue the reputation of Indigenous people at Port Stephen. It was, however, a respect overlaid by paternalism, praising docility, tractability and goodwill- and in the final analysis, he took their land. Neil Black, on the other hand, felt adrift within the moral wilderness of settler society, rejecting the commonly-held premise that a young gentleman could break out of the expectations of his class and status and then take them up again at will.

Part Two, “High Society”makes the point that British manners were themselves evolving at the beginning of the 19th century. Although there was still a belief in a social pyramid, this view was challenged by the rising bourgeoisie and evangelical domesticity which placed great store on reputation, good name, and ‘credit’.  The networks between the colonies ensured that this strategically reimagined ‘England’ was a common reference point as the colonies erected their own strictly-policed social boundaries to mirror what they conceived to be the situation at ‘home’.  Government House in the colony served as a microcosm of these relationships , as Russell demonstrates with the example of the much-studied Lady Jane Franklin in Tasmania (a theme she also explored in her book This Errant Lady which I viewed here.)  When Sir John Franklin fell out with his private secretary Alexander Maconochie, it not only caused a split in society, but also leached into the personal relationships within the domestic sphere, as the two families lived in close proximity.  Professionalism was another arena of conflict, as she shows with her example of two doctors: Dr Farquahar McCrae (the brother-in-law of Georgiana McCrae in Port Phillip) and Dr William Bland, an emancipist who had been transported to the colonies for a duel.  When the two doctors disagreed about the appropriate treatment for a patient, the dispute was played out through the newspaper columns of the Sydney Herald, spilling into a meeting of the Benevolent Asylum Society, one of those philanthropic organizations through which middle-class men underscored their respectability.

Part Three examines ‘Domestic Worlds’, and while I found this an emotionally engaging section, I did find myself wondering whether enough was made of the effect of colonialism on domestic relationships.  This was not so much with the dissatisfied governess Margaret Youngman, who reminded me of Sybilla in My Brilliant Career, which was itself an Australian working of the governess story.  It was more with the the story of Mary Ann Tankard who was deserted by her older, often-absent husband, and the wife of the Reverend Andrew Ramsay who was left behind to ‘keep up appearances’ while her husband sailed back to Scotland to deal with church business. Both these stories of desertion could have easily been mirrored by deserted women in England.

The final section moves more into the second half of the nineteenth century and the burgeoning of a public and  political sphere where women and aspiring working men  became more visible.  Transport and urbanization brought the courtesies of meeting strangers to the forefront of public discourse, especially for ‘girls’ during the 1890s.  The fiesty Annie Britton, who was arrested for parading in the volunteer uniform of Captain Gilbee, brought the captain’s family into the public arena, while the arrival of the Duke of Edinburgh brought colonial manners under the censure of the ‘home’ reading public- or at least, it was imagined that it would-just as Paul Keating was to do 130-odd years later. In the midst of the celebrations Henry Parkes, chair of the organizing committee, stepped forward to shake the Duke’s hand.  Parkes was himself of dubious background and doubtful morality given the indecent haste with which he married his mistress after his first wife’s death, and the new Governor the Earl of Jersey and his wife later ensured that the new Lady Parkes was excluded from Government House.

As Russell notes in concluding her book, hers is not a discussion of ‘real’ Australian values and nationalism- not then, and not by historians later. Instead, these carefully and sensitively drawn people and their dilemmas and social and domestic dramas

…were telling representations of the hundreds of thousands of individuals who moved into, and sometimes out of, the Australian continent; tiny atoms in the sprawling world of settler colonialism, but constituent atoms nonetheless.  At the end of the nineteenth century, as much as at its beginning, many if not most colonists understood themselves a privileged members of the Anglo world, and yearned to blend unnoticed with a cosmopolitan community upon terms of cultural and social equality, not to be marked out an uncouth barbarians or brash colonials. (p. 259)

aww-badge-2015-200x300My review is linked to the Australian Women Writers Challenge site.

It’s also 1/20 of my TBR20 Reading Challenge- my vow to read twenty of the books I already have on my shelves.

The power of one X 2

Two young women have stood up for a principle recently. More power to them.

Stand up woman #1

The first is Kahlani Pyrah who has taken legal action against Grill’d burgers who sacked her after she raised questions about payrates.


Not only was the company using a Howard-era 2005 Workchoices era enterprise agreement which paid many staff below the award rate, but Grill’d burgers  also made their so-called ‘traineeships’  a compulsory element of  employment in their hamburger chains.  This scam is rife throughout the fast-food industry. Kids are put onto ‘traineeships’, often designed by the enterprise itself, with little real training, limited transferability, and no follow-through. These ‘traineeships’ use up the kids’  entitlement to vocational training and enable their placement onto a lower ‘training’ wage by their employer.  If, later down the track, the employee approaches a TAFE for vocational training that they want to do, this earlier arrangement is counted as their national training entitlement.

The company has since announced that it will review its employment conditions. Good one, Kahlani.

Stand Up Woman #2

The second is Natalie Collins, who started a petition on to protest the inclusion of Mark Driscoll on the program for the Hillsong church conferences in Australia and the UK.  Mark Driscoll, among other things, came up with these tasteful little insights during a sermon he delivered to the Mars Hill Church in Seattle:

Ultimately, God created you and it is His penis. You are simply borrowing it for a while.Knowing that His penis would need a home, God created a woman to be your wife. And when you marry her and look down you will notice that your wife is shaped differently than you and makes a very nice home.

For a while, it seemed that her petition had been successful, but then Hillsong decided to beam in a pre-recorded interview with Driscoll instead during their Australian conference.  The UK conference featuring the Driscoll video again is taking place at the moment at the 02 arena, no less, and she has decided to mount a one-woman protest outside the arena.


No doubt she would have appreciated a few more fellow-protesters, but because of social media, she’s been able to secure much more publicity than just one single person standing in the allocated ‘pen’ outside the arena.  She tweeted her experience and posted it on Storify, and you can read about it here.

Good one, Natalie.

‘The Narrow Road to the Deep North’ by Richard Flanagan


2014, 480 p.

There are spoilers in this review

I haven’t been writing this blog long enough for it to capture my deep admiration for Richard Flanagan. Only his recent book Wanting has made it into this blog.  Over the last twenty years I’ve read all his books, with the exception of The Unknown Terrorist, which I have on my shelves and which may surface as part of my #TBR20 challenge (once I start it!). For me,  Gould’s Book of Fish is right up near the top of my list of best Australian novels.  So I was delighted that Flanagan won the Booker Prize for this book, although I must admit that my praise of it is not completely unalloyed.

The main character in The Narrow Road to the Deep North is Dorrigo Evans, met in the opening pages as an elderly, famous doctor, lionized for his role in tending to the men on the Burma Railway.  He is uncomfortable about the acclaim that has attached to him but not enough to eschew it completely.He enjoys women and has had a series of extramarital affairs throughout his life. He doesn’t really like himself very much.  One’s mind turns immediately to  ‘Weary’ Dunlop – the iconic war-hero doctor of the Thai-Burma railway-  although I’m in no position to know how closely the fictional book parallels the real-life.

We follow Evans from his childhood in Tasmania, his move from humble beginnings  into ‘society’ as the handsome young medical student and then his sudden encounter in a bookshop with Amy- a young woman who, he later learns, is his uncle’s wife. Interwoven with this love story is the muddy, oppressive heat and downpours of the Burma jungle as Evans,  now a Prisoner of War, is placed in an unsought leadership position because of his medical skills.  He holds the power to order men to stay in the rudimentary camp hospital, but he is forced into a nightmarish bargaining ritual with their Japanese captors who demand men to work on the railway.

Flanagan is a writer of images, and in all his books (and particularly in this one) he luxuriates in the visual and the visceral.  We can envisage the gnarled gums that the young Dorrigo sees above him as he lies back in a horse-drawn dray, jolting through the bush as he joins his older brother in a bush camp.  We see the golden dust-motes swirling in the still air of a first-floor bookshop when he first sees Amy; we hear the sigh of the waves outside the beachside pub that Amy manages with her husband.  We can see – and our imagination flinches away from –  the mud, pus and shit of the Burmese camp.  Parts of the book are disturbingly violent: so much so that I found myself unable to sleep after reading some sections of it.

The book is consciously literary, with small extracts of Japanese verse separating the different parts of the book. The Japanese guards are monsters: the Japanese guards are also cultured men.  It is this paradox that he explores in the latter part of the book, as the war ends and somehow these men- both Australian and Japanese- are somehow meant to rejoin life again.  Memory smooths and distorts; men on both sides grapple with questions of goodness and evil.

I mentioned that my praise is somewhat tempered in this book.  There are too many coincidences, and too much squeezed into the last quarter of the book. Flanagan himself in interviews said that he had started with the scenario of two people who had been lovers long ago catching sight of each other in a crowd, and I felt as if this scenario, which appears near the end of the book,  was a writing exercise in its own right.  So, too, the bushfire scenes near the end felt like a self-contained piece of descriptive writing, undertaken as a set piece and not particularly germane to the narrative. I found that the ending was messy- almost as if Flanagan wanted to tie everything up and yet couldn’t quite bring himself to bring the book to a close either.

That said, these are just qualms and not at all the demolition job that Michael Hofman unleashed in the London Review of Books.   No-  I was overwhelmed by the bigness of the book and its themes.  The love scenes were tender, physical, and finely crafted, and so too, paradoxically,  were the war scenes: both part of being human.  In interviews, Richard Flanagan seems to think of this as the book he’s been driven to write, all along throughout his writing career. I think he might be right.

‘Someone Knows My Name’ by Lawrence Hill


2007,  486 p.

After too many times being blindsided by spoilers, I have made it one of my little rules to never read the Introduction to a fiction book until I’ve finished it. Maybe I should also make it a rule to read the Acknowledgments and ‘About’ section that comes at the end of a book before I read it. Perhaps it’s the historian in me craving footnotes and references, but I think that it’s more that I like to know whether the author is dancing exuberantly on a wide stage, or whether instead I’m reading a closely-embroidered canvas with careful attention to each stitch.

Someone Knows My Name falls into the first category, where the author has taken an artefact and a situation and woven a story around it.  In this case, the artefact is the “Book of Negroes” compiled as a list of 3000 former slaves who had fought with the British during the American War of Independence and who thus qualified for removal to Nova Scotia Canada after the war.   In reality, although it is known that the 150 page book was compiled by a British officer under the orders of the Governor-General of British North America, no-one is sure about how or by whom it was written.  As was common practice for colonial documents at the time, there are two versions: one now in England, the other in America.

Lawrence Hill, however, has created a female protagonist to be the author of the Book of Negroes. Aminata Diallo, the daughter of a Muslim jeweller father and midwife mother, was kidnapped at the age of 11 from her village in West Africa and forced to walk to the coast. After the horrific middle passage voyage, she was sold in poor condition to an  indigo plantation in South Carolina from which she escapes when her master takes her to New York.  She is illegally taught to read and write, a skill which the British put to use in recording the names and details of Black Loyalists in preparation for the evacuation to Nova Scotia after the war.  Aminata travels to Nova Scotia, hoping that her husband, with whom she had conceived two children- both taken under varying circumstances- will be there as well. She follows John Clarkson, a young humanitarian  British officer charged with encouraging a further shift to Sierra Leone where, in theory, the Black Loyalists could create their own community.  The final phase of her journey finds her in England, agitating for her people.

I hadn’t encountered the story of the Black Loyalists and the settlement of Sierra Leone until I read Simon Schama’s book Rough Crossings Hill’s book traverses the same territory in a fictional vein, with a nod to 21st century sensibilities through his literate, Muslim, female protagonist.  There are some anachronisms- I’m sure that no-one ever thought of a church as a ‘community centre’, for instance- but the book is well-researched and has garnered much praise, including the Commonwealth Writers Prize om 2008.  If at times the story seems too incredible, there are the nuggets of similarly extraordinary fact that tether it in the historical realm: the slave narrative of, for example,  Olaudah Equiano   published in England in 1789, the blighted betrayal of the promise of Sierra Leone (‘Liberia’), and the very existence of the Book of Negroes itself. Hill does not resile from the psychic trauma of slavery, but nor does he indulge in gratuitous violence either.  Has he been too squeamish in avoiding rape and punishment,  I wonder? Or, like the convict trope in Australian history, is there a more banal experience of slavery, less about blood, but more about deprivation, exhaustion and indignity?

It’s interesting that the book was published under the title ‘Someone Knows My Name’ in America because of sensitivity over the word ‘Negro’ and yet the television series which screened in both Canada and the United States went under the name ‘Book of Negroes’.  This rather self-reflexive detail in itself reminds us that this is a book that is written from a twenty-first political consciousness, with both the insights and infelicities that such a perspective carries.

My rating: 8.5/10

Read because: I read a review of it somewhere (who knows where….)

Sourced from: Yarra Plenty Regional Library


So, we’re about to get a good look at Pluto.  I heard a very enthusiastic man talking on the radio this morning.

[CSIRO Spokesman ]Mr Nagle likens the imminent close encounter with Pluto to Neil Armstrong’s historic Moon walk and the recent Mars Curiosity Rover mission.

“New Horizons is another one of those moments,” Mr Nagle said. “You will remember where you were and what you were doing on that day when the whole world sees a brand new place in our solar system for the very first time. You will take a deep breath and go: ‘Wow this is something that no human has ever seen before.’ A world that has been out there for 5 billion years, waiting for human eyes to stare and ponder its mysteries for decades and centuries to come.”

I don’t think so.

We have become jaded by images, especially those fantastical images generated by computer. What made the moon images so transfixing was the presence of a real, live, moving MAN there.  We were watching it unfold: no-one really knew what was going to happen. Would he sink into sand the moment he put foot to the surface? Was he going to be safe?   Even though that blurred, black-and-white video footage was, of course, repeated on the news, it was not a video clip  that could be re-played again and again on YouTube at our whim.


Where was I during the moon landing? I was in Form 2 (Year 8) at Banyule High School.  The school only had one television, perched on a high stand on wheels in the corner of room 4 (I think), which had black-out curtains.   We were permitted (encouraged?) to go to watch it at home, which I did.  We were supposed to come back to school afterwards, although knowing what I do now, I can’t really imagine that any of the staff really wanted us to do so.   I can’t actually remember the act of watching it, but I do remember closing the curtains and fearing that the ferocious Miss Crewther, the girls’ principal, would come to the front door to berate me for not returning to school as instructed.  As if!

AHA Conference 10 July

Plenary panel: Historicizing International Law

I must confess to feeling completely out of my depth in trying to write about this session.  Not only was it an intellectually complex area, but my background knowledge of the area is wafer thin.  Any observations I make will be inadequate, so if you’re interested in a fuller representation of what was said, I suggest that you look at the abstracts in the Conference Program.

If the plenary yesterday was about the relevance of history to contemporary life, then this one, at the most basic level, was about the relevance of history to international law. Ian Hunter opened the session by describing two ways of historicizing international law.  The first is the dialectical approach which draws on Kant and Hegel, and sees international law only beginning in the second half of the 19th century and passing through stages towards a telos of possible harmony amongst the international community. The second, more contextual approach (e.g. Lauren Benton, Mark Hickford) postulates that international law has emerged through treaty making, and that the 17th and 18th century writings of Puffendorf, Vattel etc which were so heavily drawn upon in debates over sovereignty and conquest, were  themselves post-facto rationalizations arising from universities attached to sovereign interests.  The two views, Hunter claims, are irreconcilable.

Anne Orford also drew on this distinction, noting that from the 1990s onwards there has been the emergence  of scholarly writing intent on disrupting the celebratory nature of international law. Third World Approaches to International Law argue that imperialism is ingrained in international law; while disciplinary histories of international law see international law as a profession and a human construct. A maximal contextual approach to international law would argue that we must not look at how the law has been modified over time, whereas international justice relies exactly on that argument: that concepts change over time.

Jessica Whyte used the recent revision of the United States Department of Defence Law Manual as an example.  In an update of the 1956 manual, the new version argues, citing in particular Augustine and Aquinas, that there is a ‘just war’ tradition that this new revision is based upon. This is a marked change from the United States’ disavowal of ‘just war’  as a medieval construct when it was during the 1970s in the context of wars of national liberation (like Vietnam).

The questions that followed ranged across a number of current events: the invocation of the Treaty of Waitangi in the context of the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, and the approaches taken by Indian and Irish commissions into famine in the face of food security in a Free Trade world.

Panel: Indigenous Foundation Histories?

The final session I attended noted the publication over the last decade of two ‘foundational’ Indigenous texts: The First Australians  documentary series and book for Australian Indigenous people in 2008,  and a very handsome (and large) recent volume Tangata Whenua: An Illustrated History.

Common to these texts was a depiction of identity in historical terms, and an assumption of Indigenous agency. In this panel, indigenous authors who had been involved in writing these or other ‘foundational texts’  addressed the question of whether these books were, in fact ‘foundational’ at all, their methodology, and their intended audience.

Aroha Harris, one of the authors of Tangata Whenua noted that the book was a collective enterprise, which tried to write a ‘general’ Maori history.  This endeavour, however, is in tension with the focus on iwi (community).  The book uses many images, but there were limitations on the images that could be used e.g. images of dead people lying in state.  In making decisions about the writing and portrayal of events, she used what she anticipated the response would be from  her cousins and aunties as a form of mental guidance. She demurred at the idea that Tangata Whenua might be ‘foundational’: perhaps it is more correct to say that it is overdue.

Heidi Norman is the author of What Do We Want?  an analysis of lands right protest in NSW , a specific, fine-grained story from the 1970s onwards of the enduring but changing demands for land.

norman It was prompted by events in 2004  when Howard had dismantled ATSIC and the Sydney Morning Herald maintained a steady campaign against individuals in the state Aboriginal Land Council.  There was no response to this: what had happened, she wondered, to the protest of the 1970s?  Her book is an exploration of a new governmentality amongst a new generation of educated Aboriginal people with an ever-expanding conception of land.

Michael Stevens was a contributor of Tangata Whenua and he picked up on the idea of ‘foundational’ not so much in historical terms, but as his grandfather- a builder- would understand it: that without a strong foundation, things can fall down; that any mistake you make at the bottom will follow you up. His contribution, a section titled ‘Fat meat for the winter’ was based on his PhD thesis and drew on his own iwi and family photographs of mutton-bird harvesting and the connection between land and genealogy.

Vicky Grieves responded to these three speakers pointing out that Indigenous histories needed to change the mix, to include genealogy, languages, different ideas of time, ‘everywhen’ and the complexity of identity. Such histories would be a basis for building new histories  (often written by non-Indigenous historians) through critique by Indigenous people.

And at this point, my conference came to an end. I had a plane to catch so I wasn’t able to catch the screening of  Message from Mungo, an award-winning 2014 documentary.

It’s been a thoroughly enjoyable (if cold) four days: a beautiful setting, terrific food [always important!], well organized and stimulating.

They’ve just unpacked the entries for the Archibald Prize here at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.  To which presentations would I award my conference version of the Packers Prize?  For the keynotes, Jill Matthews reflection on the writing of Good and Mad Women on 8th July, and for the papers, I think it would have to be Nick Brodie’s presentation on the pictorial boards in Van Diemen’s Land, which I heard on 9th July.  Congratulations and thanks all round!

Yet another day in Sydney

This time, walking up to the university from my hotel.

This site housed the Sydney Benevolent Society Asylum between 1821 to 1901. From 1913 it operated as the Parcels Post Office until the mid 1960s but fell into disrepair for an extended period. It was sold for conversion to a serviced apartment complex in 1997.

This is ‘home’ for four days. The site housed the Sydney Benevolent Society Asylum between 1821 to 1901. From 1913 it operated as the Parcels Post Office until the mid 1960s but fell into disrepair for an extended period. It was sold for conversion to a serviced apartment complex in 1997.

Hey- look at this building! It’s covered in greenery although by night it has a rather tacky illuminated panel suspended from the building. But if they decide that they simply have to build a high-rise on the top of Heidelberg Hill in Melbourne, perhaps they could aspire to something as striking as this.

From a distance, there is a green fuzz on the side of the building

From a distance, there is a green fuzz on the side of the building

Closer up you can see the plants growing on the walls.

Closer up you can see the plants growing on the walls.

At night there is an illuminated panel that bridges the two towers. Love the building, but not too sure about the fairy lights.

At night there is an illuminated panel that bridges the two towers. Love the building, but not too sure about the fairy lights.

It looks better from inside the building.  You can look up through a glass atrium.

I took this from inside the building, looking up through the glass atrium

I took this from inside the building, looking up through the glass atrium

I wonder what this building used to be? It looks like a power station perhaps? No- I asked a Man in a Hard Hat, who I figure would know.  He said it was a brewery. But it seems that it, too, will be turned into apartments.


The university fronts onto Victoria Park, which has an outdoor swimming pool. None of that mamby-pamby indoor pool stuff for these swimmers!


AHA Conference 9 July

Plenary Panel: Big Questions in History- History for Life

In introducing this plenary session, Penny Russell enumerated a slew of Big Questions in History, but they boiled down to “what is the relevance of history to contemporary society?” Six historians responded, ostensibly in ten minutes each, so of course they only had time to approach the question from one perspective alone.

mandlerPeter Mandler, who as an overseas visitor has limited experience with Australia, took a historical approach to history in the United Kingdom (as one might expect a historian to do!) The 18th century gentlemanly use of history and classics for diplomatic purposes gave way in the 19th century to the use of history for nation building, the invention of tradition and commemoration: functions it still fulfils today. The 20th century saw the rise of subaltern histories and an emphasis on place, family and the individual.  He noted the popularity of military history in Australia aimed at a middle-aged male market, whereas in the United Kingdom there is the enduring popularity of Tudor history and histories of everyday life in different historical eras.

curthoysAnn Curthoys spoke on historians and public memory, using her own experience as the author of a book on the Freedom Ride of the 1960s, which she attended as a non-Indigenous participant.  After being almost forgotten in the 1980s, this event has been more recently memorialized in books, film, radio and re-enactments.  She has found her book, and even more importantly, her diary as a 19 year old student, used almost as a ‘guide book’ for Freedom Ride commemoration- becoming by default a keeper of public memory.

mckenna_clarkMark McKenna looked to Manning Clark, the subject of a biography he has written, and questioned why he was so successful in connecting with a larger audience and popularizing Australian history. Part of it, he thinks, was his way of speaking, but there was also a strong element of self-promotion, where his telling of the story of writing his six volumes of history became part of that history.  While we don’t need another Manning Clark, especially in the diverse and unpredictable media of today,  the importance of communication is paramount, as is the “disciplined imagination” of history.

freyneCatherine Freyne of the much-loved and sadly missed ‘Hindsight’ program on Radio National reflected on her experience at this AHA, the first that she has attended as a paid-up delegate. In her previous career as presenter of ‘Hindsight’, she had trawled through the AHA program,  contacting people for future program.  She posed the question: much-loved though ‘Hindsight’ was, would it meet the criteria for relevance?  Podcasts on the RN website have given programs a long shelf life and can provide the references and further reading that an audio program cannot.  Historians don’t need to rely on radio networks: they can do it themselves (although she did play a cautionary clip on the dangers of production clichés in podcasting!). She now works with the City of Sydney, which has made a strong investment in public historians, and a marketing study they had conducted had highlighted the market segmentation of history (did I detect a collective shudder?) into skimmers, delvers and divers. She particularly noted the power of alternating anecdote and analysis that historians use in storytelling (e.g. in This American Life) and referred in particular to Maria Tumarkin’s insightful essay ‘This Narrated Life’.)

triolo-our-schools-and-warRosalie Trioli spoke from her perspective as a lecturer in history method in teacher preparation courses.  Some students come to history method as former history students themselves: others have had no experience of history in the later years of school at all.  She spoke of the importance of the teacher who sees history all around them  in conveying a love a history to their students. The reality is that few history students taught by such teachers will actually visit museums, historical societies etc, even though we might wish that they will.  But history as a subject develops transferrable vocational skills, is the basis of lifelong learning and critical literacy and can lead to informed leisure choices (e.g. not graffiti-ing the local war memorial!) Teachers need to be more pro-active in defending the place of history in curricula.

history-s-childrenAnna Clark carried on from this, based on her study of history in schools. She noted the popularity of family and personal history, rather than the periodized, political history that is deemed ‘good’.  There has been an explosion of the historical market, and yet at the same time, we bemoan ignorance.  How does nostalgia affect history?

Unfortunately there was a lot here, and too little time to unpack it!

Quakers and Missionaries

The two speakers in this session are collaborating in writing a work on the Quaker transnational settler, Thomas Mason.  It is a pity that they presented in the order that they did, because Kristyn Harman’s paper gave a fuller picture of Thomas Mason, whereas Eva Bischoff’s presentation addressed methodological questions that made more sense once you had the background information about the man. So, I’ll reverse the order in which they spoke for this summary.

harman_aboriginalconvictsKristyn Harman came across Thomas Mason, also known as ‘Quaker’ Mason when writing her book Aboriginal Convicts, which dealt with Indigenous convicts sent from Cape Colony, New Zealand and from within the Australian colonies themselves to Van Diemen’s Land, a gazetted penal colony which could receive convicts from across the empire.  Mason had been resident in New Zealand, and when a group of Maori prisoners were transported to Van Diemen’s Land, he was called on as an ‘expert’ in dealing with them.  He himself had left New Zealand at much the same time, feeling uncomfortable about settler/Maori conflict. Ironically,  (given their own frontier history) Van Diemen’s Land settlers were outraged by this too, and the Maori prisoners were visited by a stream of curious supporters including the artist Prout who made several striking portraits of them. Mason advised that the Maori prisoners should be kept separate, be given Christian education and not restrained in any way, and kept busy.  They were sent to Maria Island Probation station (a relatively mild penal settlement). Four of the five returned (one died; his body repatriated to New Zealand in the 1990s). When the prospect of gazetting NZ as a penal settlement arose, Maori themselves objected. In 1851 Mason returned to New Zealand, bringing fruit trees and has become noted for reshaping both the physical and cultural landscape.

Eve Bischoff is also writing about Thomas Mason, but in a different way.  Marsh, as a Quaker was a literate and prolific correspondent, and she has already been working on an associated project about Quaker settler families. There are two related approaches that can inform such work: the network approach of mobile, interconnected elite families in general (Laidlaw, Lester) and the individual or family approach used by, for example, Linda Colley in Elizabeth Marsh (see my review here) or Foster’s recent Private Empire.  She notes, however, that the biographical approach rests on the European idea of the individual and identity, and that it conceptually favours coherence and continuity and thus loses non-linearities.  She then turned to the methodology of microhistory, which involves: 1. detailed analysis of actors 2. reconstruction of their social roles; 3 critical reflection of the narratives employed by actors and researcher (this is where it diverges from close reading) with scales of reference  (Levi On Microhistory 2001).  As she explained this, I wished that I had heard this paper about six months ago because they I would have had a name for what I have been doing!

And then, because the session finished early, I slipped into the next room to catch the last paper in the History on Screen session and to hear Clare Corbould speak on Roots, the book and miniseries and the correspondence it generated from readers to both Arthur Haley the author and David Wolper, the producer. Roots was published in 1976 and the miniseries was shown in 1977. It was a television phenomenon. It was screened on consecutive nights (largely from a fear that it would tank) and thereby became an intense, shared, national experience. The letters received from both white and black viewers, of varying educational levels and diverse experience in writing such letters, had been collected in David Wolper’s archive, which has since been closed.  Many letters from white Americans either emphasized the ‘understanding’ that the program had engendered amongst viewers- although for many writers this remained attitudinal rather than political. Others, however, seeing America under siege at the time (oil shock etc) pointed to the need for whites and blacks to work together and  criticized the program for raising issues that should be left untouched. Other hostile white letter writers felt that the debt had been paid because their family ancestors had fought in the Civil War. African American writers pointed out the fear of redress on the part of whites.  The program had a huge effect on interest in family history.  Armenian Americans began lobbyingd Wolper to make a similar series for their ethnic group- but he went on to make- wait for it, The Thorn Birds!

Colonial military cultures

James Dunk returned to a well-furrowed field in examining the Rum Rebellion, (now more properly called the 1808 rebellion because it involved more than just rum)  but from a very different perspective.  He did not stop at the governor under the bed, or the court martial, but instead followed the protagonists in their later life and found a prevalence of suicides, depression and anxiety. He argues that this madness (“the Botany Bay disease”)  should be seen as part of the story- and indeed, part of the strain of the colonial project itself, as well as the moment of rebellion.

Trish Downes turned to the convict soldiers and sailors who were involved in the exploratory expeditions of men like Oxley, Sturt and Mitchell.  She notes the attention to Irish and Scots convicts as a sub-group of the convict population, but even more numerous were military convicts- men who either had been, or were still, serving soldiers and sailors who had been convicted for a variety of crimes including desertion, mutiny and theft.  Although tried in military courts, transportation was not an approved sentence, so the offence needed to be reassigned so that the punishment could take place. Although transported, they brought with them their military and technical skills which were highly valued by explorers.  Some military convicts volunteered for expeditions in the hope of regaining their dignity; others became ‘career’ expeditionists, embarking on multiple expeditions often with the same leader. There was a painful  irony in choosing ex-sailors to carry a boat into the interior in the quest for the inland sea.  Despite the opportunity to do so, only one absconded.

Finally Paula Byrne (whose work I have often read) spoke of her study into the sensibilities of groups of people, rather than individuals, using letters, journals and documents to examine the language they used to describe and define themselves.  This is an aspect of her work on the family and associates of Ellis Bent.  She identified four features of this group identity amongst the military.  First, the concern for money. Soldiers enriched themselves from booty, and NSW did not offer such opportunities (although it did offer land). Officers sent to the colonies faced years without prizes.  Second, violence was an inherent part of a shared military identity. Sydney Harbour was a fortified garrison; they enjoyed hunting as a leisure activity; they used military language in describing their work.  Third, they focused on entertainments rather than ‘things’ (as settlers tended to do). Finally, they often made use of the classics in their letters, an affectation amongst military men. They were conscious of conversations (perhaps on the look-out for duelling opportunities) and their women were known for being loud.

Colonial Imaginaries

This was a rather diverse group of papers. Judith Jonker described the 1854 Sydney exhibition, one of a series of local  colonial exhibitions held in preparation for the Paris International Exhibition that was to be held in the following year.  There had been an earlier exhibition in London during 1851 but the Australian contribution had been a private venture, and the exhibition was ordered by the simplified classifications based on the old rubric of ‘animal, vegetable, mineral’ and arts and manufactures.  This Sydney exhibition used the same classifications, although the Paris International that followed adopted new, more complex classifications of exhibits.  Advertisements were placed in the Sydney newspapers, inviting collectors to make their geological collections available for display, and Jonker examined a number of these exhibitors. Rev William Branwhite Clarke was the major exhibitor, but it was also an opportunity for a small number of women exhibitors to make their collections  available as well (even though there were no female naturalists in their own right).  Many more women participated in the arts and manufactures section, which was a safe public place to display female activity. The geological displays were accompanied by a catalogue containing essays which enhanced the reputation of Australian science.

Nick Brodie gave a fascinating presentation on work he is doing in collaboration with Kristyn Harman on  Governor Davey’s Proclamation to the Aborigines- you know the one, with diagrams showing that if whites kill natives, they will be executed, and that if natives kill whites, they will suffer the same fate.  But do we know the Proclamation? He argued convincingly that we think we know more about it than we do.  There are seven ‘original’ boards, although the one that is best known was supposedly donated to the Tasmanian museum by a man working at the Supreme Court House in 1858. A copy was displayed at the Melbourne Intercolonial Exhibition of 1866, but it showed a different date and had a different reported conversation at the bottom of the poster.  An oral history at the time led to its designation as being Governor Davey’s Proclamation, but this has since been muddied by an attribution to Governor Arthur.  Then there is yet another poster that has been described but not found, depicting a far less even-handed legal approach and conveying a different message entirely.  All in all, fascinating detective work- and I’m keeping my eyes peeled for the journal article!

And the last presentation for the day was by Michael Warren. He located his question within the long-running debate over the extent to which settler colonialism constituted genocide. However, his interest is in the settlers’ fears of ‘depredation’ and how they presented themselves as victims of Indigenous violence in order to leverage official protection.   In particular he referenced an article in the Sydney Gazette that warned that there would be an attack at the next full moon, when the Jervis Bay aborigines would join forces with local groups to annihilate the white settlers. He is working within an emotional dialectic, and a ‘history of the emotions’ approach, and taking a comparative approach utilizing both New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land.

And so, thus ends Thursday.

AHA Conference 8 July 2015

Australian Women’s History Network Keynote Address: Jill Matthews, ‘Good and Mad Women: Histories of Gender then and now’.

“Should I even be at this session?” I wondered as I filed into a steeply-raked lecture theatre to hear Jill Matthews speak on her book Good and Mad Women, written in 1984 and yet another of the books that I will read one day.  Possibly Matthews thought the same thing, as she declaimed any interest in speaking at writers’ festivals and meet-the-author functions, believing that the author’s work should speak for her.  But I’m so glad that I was there, to hear a very human and wide-ranging reflection on the political, cultural and academic influences on the writing of this very influential book thirty years ago.

Born in 1949 into the stultifying stolidity of the Menzies and Playford state governments in South Australia, she was the first in her family to attend university on a Commonwealth scholarship. As an undergraduate and then postgraduate,  she threw herself into the revolutionary activism of the late 1960s and early 1970s of Vietnam, Marxism, Women’s and Gay Liberation. Her studies co-existed with twirling the Gestetner handle to print off flyers and newsletters, conducting sit-ins, performances, reading and study groups and meetings, meetings, meetings.  Among her interests was anti-psychiatry which she drew upon when she embarked on a PhD looking into the admission records of women admitted to the Parkside Lunatic Asylum/ Glenside Mental Hospital at a time when homosexuality was viewed as a mental illness that could be ‘cured’ by lobotomy and aversion therapy.


The book Good and Mad Women emerged from her Ph D but had to be substantially changed to broaden the focus from South Australia to the eastern seaboard generally, strip out the jargon and shift the focus from “madness” to the everyday life of women.   On re-reading both the thesis and the book in preparation for this talk, Matthews found herself pleasantly impressed by  them both.  She recognized anew the patchiness of the research available at the time; noted how visible her concern with methodology was, and she recollected how miserable the research made her- not so much in terms of doing the research but the emphasis on women as victims.  Where was the fun? she asked herself.  It came as no surprise then that her later work moved to examine women’s bodily pleasure in dance halls and film, although none of her later work had the success of Good and Mad Women. This wonderful, funny, engaging presentation finished with an exhortation over the importance of hope as a way of holding our different lives together.

The Whitlam Government 1972-75: a foundational moment? Transforming Political Space: Whitlamism as Quality of Life

There is an all-day stream of the conference devoted to different aspects of Whitlamism.  I missed the first one ‘From Inspiration to implementation” but caught this second one that dealt with the human policies of the Whitlam government.

Michelle Arrow gave a presentation about the Royal Commission into Human Relationships, that was  championed by the Women’s Affairs Advisor Elizabeth Reid in the wake of the divisive debates about abortion law reform.  Chaired by Elizabeth Evatt with Rev Felix Arnott and Anne Deveson, it was one of thirteen Royal Commissions  initiated during the Whitlam years, and it spawned five volumes and 500 recommendations that extended far beyond abortion into human relationships more generally.  Derided by some at the time as “a giant talkback show”, by the time it released its interim findings during the 1977 election campaign, it was greeted with outrage and largely disowned by then-Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, minister Bob Ellicott and also by-then Opposition Leader Whitlam, under whose auspices it had begun.  Although it was never debated in Parliament, it did guide policy in later decades, even though its calls for state intervention ran counter to Fraser’s stance on non-intervention.

The two other papers were quite complementary, both dealing with regional policy as a way of sidelining the states and improving life at the lived, community level.  Lyndon Megarrity’s paper  noted that there had been an attempt after WWII to form regional development committees but these were abandoned by 1949 by both Chifley and Menzies who had other priorities. Whitlam himself lived in the suburbs and appreciated the planned nature of Canberra , and so when developing his ideas he put federal funding of local government on the agenda.  He saw support for the local as part of the national interest, but felt that it was best addressed at a regional level through the creation of  76 regional organizations.  There was no constitutional basis for this action, and the referendum held in 1974 to allow borrowing for local government failed.  After 1975 the regional councils were dismantled, but regionalism still exists, as evidenced perhaps by Abbott’s recent proposal for development of the ‘northern region’ of Australia.

Melanie Oppenheimer’s paper examined the Australian Assistance Plan which combined the three elements of regionalism, federalism and voluntarism. It delivered social welfare reform  and community development through Regional Councils for Social Development, thus by-passing the states. Although Fraser promised in 1975 to retain the Australian Assistance Plan, it was scrapped two years later.  She is working on a project with two other historians, examining the archives of the Loddon Campaspe Regional Council, supplementing the documentary record with oral histories with former workers and participants. The Regional Council encompassed multiple municipalities and  was based in Bendigo, and the funding that flowed from the Australian Assistance Plan supported Meals on Wheels, the employment of a youth development officer and adventure playgrounds. There was an emphasis on youth, and evidence-based practice.

Love and Law in the Colonial Archive

Penny Russell started this session with a paper ‘Exposing the ‘Family Man’: Seduction and Credit in Colonial Sydney”.  The said ‘Family Man’ was John Thomas Wilson, an apparently successful iron monger, thoroughly embedded with the moral and business leaders of Sydney, despite the fact that he had taken up with an actress Marie Taylor at the Theatre Royal,  in plain sight.  In March 1836 he was exposed in print by J.D. Lang’s Colonist newspaper (in a poem possibly written by Lang himself) which made reference to Wilson’s earlier affair with a Miss Marion Cavill, a former Lang emigrant.  A horse-whipping of the editor and charge of assault ensued. Tit-for-tat court cases and assaults followed, drawing in Wilson, Lang, Miss Cavill’s brother Mr Wylie- a  “very blokey” story, as Russell points out. Although the sexual scandal seemed to stop here, it had financial implications for Wilson and by early 1837 Wilson left for England leaving huge debts behind him. News of his debts preceded him, and when he returned to Sydney in 1838, he became a successful auctioneer, only to abscond a second time with his clients’ goods leaving even more debt. At this stage, the Sydney Gazette published extensive news of Wilson’s indebtedness, imposture and immorality. A series of betrayals and suicides followed, in what is an incredible colonial story of seduction: seduction of women for their sexuality and men for their money.

Kiera Lindsey’s paper “When the Law Sleeps Justice Must Awaken: Nineteenth-century abduction cases and the colonial newspapers” prefigures her forthcoming book “Mary Ann: A Colonial Romance” which promises to be a rollicking read. Elopement and abduction cases came before colonial courts, and were commented on at length by local newspapers.  Her study of abduction cases in newspapers, starting in 1832 and finishing in 1932, uncovered 580 individual cases. Abduction law at the time took no account of the woman’s consent, but as the century wore on the newspapers became more  colourful in their reporting of such cases, and sympathy shifted from fathers to thwarted lovers, even though such cases remained illegal. Two Mary Anns in Sydney in 1848 slipped away from their parental homes; one with a young man who married her; another with a man more than 20 year older than her who abandoned her.  In the latter case, Bell’s Sporting Life became increasingly critical of the rascally behaviour of such men.  Another case in Gundagai in 1872 involved an Aboriginal tracker and a 16 year old, who ran away to marry. The racial identity of John Gallagher became the main issue of press commentary; Miss Noonan refused to condemn the prisoner. The defendant was found guilty and sentenced to 18 months hard labour. Press reports varied, some making much of the prisoner’s racial identity, others blaming Miss Noonan.  In the final case she discussed, the Syrian community in September 1892 was in uproar over an elopement which provoked press commentary condemning bride-price and oppressive parental behaviour in Syrian law.

Finally Alecia Simmons spoke on “Gay Lotharios and Unsuspecting Eves” dealing with maintenance provisions breach of promise cases between 1823 and the 1970s.  She started with the story of Esther Stewart, who was sent to the Newcastle Benevolent Asylum when she fell pregnant to John Joseph Duggan,  a man with whom she had ‘stepped out’ with for three years.  When she sued him for breach of promise, she was awarded 1000 pounds. Breach of promise files, particularly in early cases, contain love letters, tickets etc. as proof, because the parties themselves could not give evidence. Such cases often involved working class women, who needed to prove their chastity while pursuing men for money, with the law suit as a supplement to maintenance.  Breach of promise was an overwhelmingly feminized phenomenon, and women were overwhelmingly successful (76% of cases).  44% of the women had illegitimate children.  South Australia formed quite an exception because it allowed breach of promise to be heard in the local court (compared with the other states which heard such cases in the Supreme Court).  The defence for breach of promise was the bad character of the woman and the cases turned on what constituted immoral conduct. She suggests that the courts were attempting to shift financial responsibility for single mothers and their children from the community and charitable organisations, to the man. However, it was difficult to prove paternity, a maintenance order only applied in the colony in which it was issued and cases could only be brought after the birth of the child.  However, breach of promise cases were likely to be more successful and provided a lump sum rather than an ongoing payment.

The Whitlam government 1972-75: a foundational moment? Whitlam and the Australian Political Tradition.

Greg Melleuish warned against being captured by myths- in particular the way that the Whitlam government was came to seen as the party of progress, compared with the deadness of the latter Liberal Party years.  Yet the Labour party had also been derided as anti-intellectual and tainted with Tammany-Hall politics, and both parties were led by men who were born in 1914.  It was not a foregone conclusion that the newly-educated classes would jump to the left. What was contingent was the way that Whitlam emphasized the ALP as the party of ideas, attractive to the new knowledge class.  His paper drew heavily on Manning Clarke and Donald Horne, Hancock and Rand. He argues that Whitlam was attempting to modernize the ALP, a project associated with the extension of education inaugurated by Menzies.  The real opposition to Whitlam was not Menzies, but Santamaria.  The subsequent failings of the ALP were mythologized as a tragic narrative, dominating the historic record as the party of progress, rather than seeing continuities from Menzies to Holt to Whitlam and Fraser.

Stuart Macintyre sees the 1940s and 1970s as bookends of a period of wage growth, decline in inequality, increase in participation in education and improvement in health provision and cultural life.   His paper compared the Labor governments of the post-war 1940s and1970s, the needs they identified and the techniques they employed.  Whitlam often made reference in conversation to the post-war reconstruction Labor government but this was not made explicit in policy terms. The were parallels in the methods that both these Labor governments used: Chifley and Coombes  instituted commissions of enquiry as a way of laying the groundwork for change, a technique also used by Whitlam. Both proceeded by referendums.  In the 1940s the Labor Party was able to implement its changes in a lasting way, compared with the Whitlam government, which saw many of its changes wound back.

Finally, Carol Johnson spoke on ‘Gough Whitlam and the re-imagined citizen-subject of Australian social democracy’.  Whitlam saw himself as the heir of Curtin and Chifley. She argues that it is necessary to recognize Whitlam’s expansion of the view of the citizen-subject of social democracy.  Whitlam spoke of ‘positive equality’ which could be achieved by extending already-existing programs, especially in education. Whitlam began with the premise that protecting working class employment and conditions was no longer necessary: instead he saw positive equality through the combined resources of the community. Chifley saw the male wage-earner head of household as the primary citizen-subject, (although Johnson would argue that Labor was always a social-democratic party). Whitlam argued that women were re-defining and re-describing the political and he placed more emphasis on education  than his predecessors as a means of quality of life and equality of opportunity. Chifley supported the White Australia Policy: Whitlam argued for integration rather than assimilation.  With increased inflation and increasing unemployment in 1974, Whitlam urged wage restraint, but he later conceded that he was not able to bring the unions along with him. Both the right and left now point to a split in the ALP between workers and progressives, but Whitlam did not see this way.  Although when push came to shove in harder economic times, male labour was protected, we should not overlook the importance of Whitlam’s reimagining of the citizen-subject.

Keynote Address: Ann Curthoys ‘Race, Liberty, Empire: The Foundations of Australian political culture’.

This address, which was recorded by the ABC and will be heard on the Big Ideas program at a later date foreshadows the research she will be undertaking with Jessie Mitchell for a book to be called ‘Taking Liberties’. Their research will combine two separate historiographies: that of aboriginal dispossession (tragedy) and colonial political history (triumph). They will look at all the states of Australia, because the issue of self government arose for each colony at a different stage of indigenous/settler interaction. Indigenous people responded differently, depending on their experience of colonization; and the term ‘settler’ is also complex, depending on class, nationality and gender. The ‘over-determined’ moment of self-government came at the conjunction of five major developments: the failure of ‘protection’; the strengthening of racial thinking exemplified by the Great Chain of Being; the perceived inevitability of Indigenous extinction; the increasing desire for self-government and British rights, and the metropolitan turn towards self-government.

When granting self-government to New Zealand and Canada, Britain tried to retain control over Aboriginal policies, but did not even attempt when granting self-government to Australian colonies.  It became the responsibility of the separate governments of each colony to devise their own policies which led to variation between the colonies.  In Victoria and South Australia there was more evidence of humanitarianism and Protection policies, although in Victoria this gradually became a system of surveillance and control while South Australia still had a large, moving frontier. In NSW there was a strong belief in imminent  extinction, so little policy was implemented.  Queensland expanded its Native and Mounted Police.

Western Australia formed a major exception. Because of its small population, the issue of self-government did not rise until long after the other colonies.  British policy had changed by this time, after involvement in wars in Natal and New Zealand, and it was concerned  over harsh treatment in the West Australian pastoral and pearling industries. As a result, in Section 70 it maintained British control over Indigenous affairs, but it was strongly resisted by Forrest and West Australian settlers and repealed.  However, Section 70 had a long history in Aboriginal memory, right up until 2002.

So, wait for the ABC Big Ideas repeat to hear this in a much more coherent and eloquent form!

Presenters: again, if I have misrepresented your presentation or made errors, please contact me at the email address in the ‘About’ section.