Australia's defining moment
Written by ACM   
Saturday, 13 September 2014

IN the context of the constitutional recognition debate, Australia's treatment of indigenous issues should be compared with New Zealand's, writes Damian Freeman in The Australian on 6 September, 2014. Now teaching at Cambridge, Dr Freeman was a research assistant with ACM.









Dr. Freeman refers to the settlement in 17888, Australia's ''defining moment'' and notes that the Governor Arthur Phillip's  determination to ensure the fair treatment of Abor­iginal people was not some personal idiosyncrasy. In 1787, he received formal instructions from King George III. They outlined the various things that Phillip was to do on the journey to Australia, then on establishing a colony in Australia.

Among other things, The King instructed Phillip: “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. You will endeavour to procure an account of the numbers inhabiting the neighbourhood of the intended settlement, and report your opinion to one of our secretaries of state in what manner our intercourse with these people may be turned to the advantage of this colony.”