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Part Short Answer Questions


a) Why were the aboriginal children removed from their families?


Aboriginal children were removed from their families for many reasons including the assimilation of the aboriginal race and the belief that they were inferior to the white race. To achieve assimilation thousands of aboriginal children were taken by force from their families under government policies. The assimilation policies grew out of a system of paternalism- a system that had roots in earlier British colonisation. The paternalistic view held that those who had colonised now had a moral obligation to look after its indigenous population. The aim of these policies was to absorb indigenous children into the wider community so that the indigenous culture could be eradicated. Another reason for the removal of aboriginal children was that it was believed that the aboriginal culture was inferior. The dominant European culture believed that aboriginal culture was valueless and it was an aboriginal child’s best interests to be brought up within the white community. A commonwealth report on the aborigines in 11 recommended that the mixed blooded children be taken away to be better integrated into white Australia as children with mixed blood were believed to have the ability to become’ European.


b) What were the results of this?


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The forceful removal of aboriginal children form their families were considered unjust and degrading by the aboriginals and had caused profound suffering. These government policies severed families and led people to grow up devoid of the memories of their true relations. The aboriginal children who were removed from their families were either sent to children’s homes or were adopted by foster families and were often neglected and abused by the cruelty of these families. Aboriginal children also felt a sense of alienation from their new lives as they were forcefully contained in a new environment with strangers and an uncertain future. In addition to the feeling of alienation, aboriginal children also felt helpless as young children were unable to fight their cause or even fully comprehend what was happening to them.


c) Why is the Day of Mourning important to the aboriginal people?


January 6 was nominated as Australia Day to celebrate the anniversary of the white settlement. It commemorates the ceremonious unfurling of the British flag at the head of Sydney Cove by Governor Arthur Phillip in 1788 but by the beginning of the 1st century it is also recognized as a day of mourning for the invasion and dispossession of Australia’s aboriginal people. To many people, both aboriginal and non aboriginal, the day will never be seen as a national day of celebration. The landing at Sydney cove marks the beginning of the bitter wars, unnecessary and brutal deaths and the continuing struggle for survival by the aboriginal people in Sydney and around Australia.


The centenary in 1888 was a proud celebration of the British and Australian achievement. Aboriginal people boycotted the celebratory events but their pretense went unnoticed by mainstream Australians. By 18 though, aboriginal people in Sydney were becoming more organized in their political activities. Bill Ferguson organized the first meeting of the aborigines progressive association in 17 in preparation for an event to mark the 150th anniversary of the British arrival, Ferguson, William Cooper (leader of Victoria’s Australian aboriginal league) and Margaret Tucker organized ‘A day of mourning and protest’ and a conference for the 6th of January 18. This event was held in the Australian hall at 150 Elizabeth street after they were refused use of the Sydney Town Hall. The meeting was the first aboriginal civil rights gathering and was a major step towards redressing the wrongs of history against aboriginal people. It attracted some 1000 aboriginal men and women and was the first culmination of ten years of action by the aboriginal people against the policies of the NSW Aboriginal Protection Board.


On Australia day 18, 150 years after the first white settlement in Australia, aboriginal people protested their treatment in white Australia. While many white Australians enjoyed the celebrations of Australia day in Sydney, thousands of aboriginal men and women assembled to mourn the loss of their lands and demanded basic human rights. They wanted their stolen lands returned and the same citizen rights enjoyed by white Australian, aboriginal representatives in parliament, equal opportunity in employment, health, education and housing and recognition of aboriginal laws. They also demanded the elimination of the aboriginal protection board and other official bodies that controlled the lives of aboriginal Australians and of greater importance an end to the forced removal of aboriginal children from their families.


d) Outline the Theodore Plan, the Lang Plan and the Premier’s Plan. How did they differ?


Theodore Plan


Edward Granville Theodore had been the Labour Premier of Queensland before entering federal parliament. He had a good understanding of the Australian economy and proposed a different solution to the great depression crisis. He believed that instead of cutting spending, the government should follow an inflationary policy and increase spending to stimulate the economy. Theodore advised a plan for the government to create credit and put additional 18 million pounds into the economy, which would be spent on public works, which in turn would create more employment opportunities for Australians. What Theodore supported was not the deflationary solution of the conservative banking and business interest but rather an inflationary solution. The Theodore plan was quickly criticised from the fear that it would increase prices. The plan never was initiated simply because it was dismissed and rejected by the senate and the commonwealth.


Lang Plan


The Labour politician, John Thomas Lang was one of the most controversial figures of the Australian politic. Lang had been premier of New South Wales from 15 to 17.


In October 10 he was again elected premier and by then had a very clear view as to what should be done to reduce the suffering of the depression. In February 11 Lang announced his solution to Australia’s problem. He was opposed to government cutting spending because he believed it would increase the hardship on the working class citizens. In what became known as the Lang plan, he demanded that the federal government stop paying interest on t he debt to the British and put the money back into the economy to reduce unemployment.


The Premier’s Plan


On June 11 a settled plan was finally agreed to and was called the Premier’s plan. This plan involved a cut in spending of 0 per cent from both the federal and state government, which included lowering wages and pensions. Taxes increased to provide money for the government and were suggested as a deflationary approach.


Both the Theodore and the Lang plan were far too radical for the cautious governments and the bankers of the time. Both Theodore and Lang were favoring and inflationary solution, putting back the money into the economy to get it moving. Lang had also gone one step further by wanting repudiation, a refusal to pay back borrowed money, banking interest and the government. To the banking interest and the government Lang’s plan was considered extreme and dishonorable. However the Premier plan was vastly different in comparison with the Theodore and Lang plan, it involved increased taxes and the lowering of wages, which in turn meant more hardship and toil for the working class. This was against Jack Lang’s interests as he had always supported the working class, expressing his sympathy for their high work input and low output of money.


e) What Impact did the Great Depression have on the Australian political life?


The Labour government of James Scullin came to power in 1 and during the great depression they had to deal with the complex issues accompanying the crisis. Although they had attempted their best, their members had lacked the skill and toughness required and Scullin was too cautious and gentle to keep his party in form. Jack Lang, the Premier of New South Wales became the representative of the radical portion of Labour while the more conservative fractions of the party were represented by Joe Lyons. In 11, Joe Lyons had resigned from the Labour government due to his dislike of Theodore’s influence and the radicalism of Jack Lang. the loss of Lyons and four other members had been a downfall of the Scullin government. In 11, half of Scullin’s party voted against the Premier Plan, the Labour party was divided and during the following elections, Joe Lyons became Prime Minister of the Nationalists Party. During the Depression extreme right wing movements had also began to appear, the most significant of which were the New Guard. The New Guard, led by Eric Campbell was a group of middle class retired military men who believed that Australian society was threatened by the forces from the left. The organization was nationalistic and patriotic, loyal to the monarchy and very much anti-socialists and anti-communists.


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