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Pacific News Minute: Australian University Says British Did Not "Settle" Australia, They Invaded

Wikipedia Commons
Wikipedia Commons

Australia's been in an uproar this week over a diversity toolkit published by the University of New South Wales, which advises students that the country was not "settled" by Britain, but rather "invaded, occupied and colonized."  As for Captain James Cook, he may have mapped the coastline, but certainly did not discover the place.  More from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute. 

"Whitewash" screams the front page of Sydney's Daily Telegraph.  And in a follow-up story: "Nutty professors want to Cook the history books." 

Triggered by publication of the Terminology Toolkit, the story took on new life, when the equivalent of the governor of Queensland said she agreed with it.  "For many years, schools and Australian Institutions have not told the truth about the way in which Australia was settled," said state premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. "A lot of indigenous people lost their lives, there were massacres and the truth must always be told."  Asked if that meant that Australia had been invaded, she replied "Yes."

According to the University of New South Wales guidelines, the idea that Captain Cook "discovered" Australia offends most aboriginal people.  They, of course, arrived a very long time before he did and several European explorers preceded him as well.  

And…the guidelines advise, don't use the term “aborigines. “ Aboriginal peoples recognize the fact that there were many groups who spoke more than 250 different languages.  Don't leave out Torres Strait Islanders who have an ethnically, culturally and linguistically distinct...and don't call any of them nomads which might be taken to justify the concept of Terra Nullius...the legal term that declared Australia empty land, and therefore, ripe for invasion, occupation and colonization. 

Over 36 years with National Public Radio, Neal Conan worked as a correspondent based in New York, Washington, and London; covered wars in the Middle East and Northern Ireland; Olympic Games in Lake Placid and Sarajevo; and a presidential impeachment. He served, at various times, as editor, producer, and executive producer of All Things Considered and may be best known as the long-time host of Talk of the Nation. Now a macadamia nut farmer on Hawaiʻi Island, his "Pacific News Minute" can be heard on HPR Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
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