I was recently perusing the Newcastle City Council website and stumbled upon some official documentation meant primarily for virtue signalling. It was documentation announcing the council’s commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The common theme across all this type of documentation is the notion of land theft by the British. The buzz words and evocative language include dispossession, disadvantage, attaining justice and invasion. As we currently live in an age of offence I felt rather inclined to be offended at the idea that somehow my ancestors (white fellas), had invaded Australia. But it must be true because council says.
Link to aforementioned web page:
Of course Newcastle City Council is not the only local government to be provoking racial division amongst Australians. The Darebin Council in Victoria (Australia’s socialist state) does not hold citizenship ceremonies on Australia Day as it deems it “. . . offensive and inappropriate.” It was the beginning of invasion and oppression also, they added. The Moreland (Victoria), Yarra Council (Victoria) and Fremantle Council (WA) have taken the same stance.
On the subject of invasion though I feel some discomfort. The definition has become a little loose if we are to consider the First Fleet and those who followed as invaders. Here is the Cambridge definition of invade: to enter a place in large numbers, usually when unwanted and in order to take possession or do damage.
When the First Fleet arrived in January 1788, they came with a cargo of approximately 1400 people. More than 700 of these ‘invaders’ were convicts forced against their will for such heinous crimes as stealing clothing, pick-pocketing, stealing animals or counterfeiting. Given that the definition above does not cater for those forced against their will to come in large numbers, it’s highly inappropriate to use the term ‘invader’ here.
I also have some concern about the notion of coming in ‘large numbers’. Generally speaking, 1400 people is a large number. However, estimates of the aboriginal population of the ‘great southern land’ in 1788 are usually situated between 300,000 and 1,000,000. Now, one would think that in the context of a native force that could call upon (at the least) 300,000 people to expel an ‘invading’ force of 1400, the notion of large numbers is slightly troublesome.
From this point in the ‘invasion’ narrative it’s quite natural to question that part of the definition that stipulates the settlers were ‘unwanted’. For if the 1400 people that initially arrived in Sydney Cove in 1788 were unwanted, surely they would have been expelled by the much larger native population. The question needs to be asked: Why couldn’t 300,000 people remove a motley crew of 1400 that included a girl as young as 14 and a woman at least 60 years old? That the notion of invasion continues to hold weight despite this known fact, is ridiculous and personally offensive.
Did the settlers come to damage the country or the people? No. Captain Arthur Phillip of the First Fleet was given direct instructions to punish settlers to the full extent of the law if they caused the natives any undue stress. Of course some settlers were randomly murdered such as Samuel Davis and William Okey, but nobody harps on that lest we destroy the ‘noble savage’ narrative. Below is a quote from the British Government’s instructions to Arthur Phillip prior to his departure in 1787:
You are to endeavour by every possible means to open an intercourse with the natives and to conciliate their affections, enjoining all our subjects to live in amity and kindness with them. And if any of our subjects shall wantonly destroy them, or give them any unnecessary interruption in the exercise of their several occupations. It is our will and pleasure that you do cause such offenders to be brought to punishment according to the degree of the offence.
And another thing: If you can still find it somewhere in your mind to pretend that white people invaded Australia, put yourself in the shoes of the free settlers. These were the people encouraged by their government to take a 6 month voyage to the other side of the world and help establish a new country. Free settlers weren’t signing up for military duty to exterminate the various tribes of Australia. There were no terms and conditions in the newspaper advertisements of the time that stated ‘by the way, in approximately 200 years from now, you and your descendants will be referred to as cruel invaders’.
It’s in this context that this article was titled. For doesn’t the current day, good intentioned migrant arrive in Australia with the belief they’re here to help build a better country? Does that migrant – after passing all the legal requirements and paying a sizeable fee – deserve to be labelled an invader? Perhaps in a century or so Australians will refer to those that come to our shores today from China or Vietnam (legally) as invaders. Mull on that the next time you use the term invader in a loose manner.