Check your watch. Look at the calendar. Yes, it’s 2014.
And this just happened.
The leader of our country, Tony Abbott, this morning declared that Australia was “nothing but bush” prior to British settlement.
Yep, those words you read are just correct: as New Matilda reports, our Prime Minister announced to an international audience (including British Prime Minister David Cameron) that there was literally nothing going on in Australia before Captain Cook et al sailed in, effectively erasing over 60,000 years of indigenous history and culture in this country.
Speaking at an international business breakfast in Sydney this morning, the Prime Minister reflected on the experience of the First Fleet’s marines, sailors and convicts on arrival in Botany Bay in 1788. To them, he said, “everything would have seemed so extraordinarily basic and raw…They must have thought they’d come almost to the Moon” He went on to praise their “extraordinary development” to create “a country which is as free and as fair and as prosperous as any”.
In making these remarks, our Prime Minister effectively reiterated the fiction of terra nullius: the view that Australia was a “land belonging to no one” prior to settlement. This historical lie was rejected by the High Court in the Mabo case more than two decades ago, when indigenous Australians were legally recognised as this country’s traditional owners.