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Title: 'They Would Speedily Abandon the Country to the New Comers': The Denial of Aboriginal Rights
Contributor(s): Roberts, D  (author)orcid 
Publication Date: 2006
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Abstract: In 1785, when he fronted the House of Commons Committee on Transportation, Sir Joseph Banks was unquestionably the person best qualified to extol the virtues of New South Wales (NSW). Banks spoke with the authority of an aristocrat and eminent scientist. He was the president of the Royal Society and, of course, one of the very few gentlemen to have actually seen the southern continent first-hand. It had been 15 years since he and Captain James Cook had led the Endeavour along the east coast of Australia, returning home with their cargo of specimens, maps and wonderful tales of a far-off world. Since then, no other Englishman had been near the place.Lord Beauchamp's Committee on Transportation was convened -- shortly after the British government legislated to resume its centuries-old practice of transporting convicted felons abroad -- to consider the best possible location for a new and unique British colony. Banks was one of numerous gentlemen lobbying the case for 'Botany Bay'. He assured the Committee that NSW was entirely amenable to the English settlement. It was fertile, well-stocked with fish and game, well-timbered and well-watered. But the bulk of the questions asked of him related to the 'inhabitants' - those of east-coast Australia in general, and of Botany Bay in particular. Was it 'much inhabited'? Were the people 'of a peace-able or hostile Disposition?' What was 'the nature of the government of which they lived', and might some site for a convict settlement 'be obtained by Cession or purchase'? Banks' responses to these questions are well-known. There were 'very few inhabitants', he said. Though they 'seemed inclined to Hostilities they did not appear at-all to be feared.' ... Ultimately, Banks was asked if he thought a contingent of colonists stepping ashore at Botany Bay might meet with any 'obstruction' serious enough to prevent a settlement being formed. 'Certainly not', he replied. '[F]rom the experience I have had of the Natives of another part of the same Coast I am inclined to believe they would speedily abandon the Country to New Comers'. 1
Publication Type: Book Chapter
Source of Publication: The Great Mistakes of Australian History, p. 14-31
Publisher: University of New South Wales Press Limited
Place of Publication: Sydney
ISBN: 0868409952
Field of Research (FOR): 210301 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History
HERDC Category Description: B1 Chapter in a Scholarly Book
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Appears in Collections:Book Chapter
School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

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