Chris Sheehan

The Undermining of our License to Dwell

Sir Roger Scruton made the intriguing claim that classical architecture uniquely provides us the ‘license to dwell, the affirmation of our right of occupation, and the reminder that our communities precede and survive us.’[1] Whether or not architecture confers such a license, an Briton like Scruton might speak easily of the licence to dwell in England as no one else makes a competing claim to Blake’s “green and pleasant land”. But we Australians are told by Midnight Oil and countless others that our beds are burning because the land ‘belongs to them’, Aboriginal Australians, and we are interlopers at best, genocidal conquistadors at worst.

Many historical arguments might be made about this proposition, and I will not go into them here. However, many Australians remain haunted by the bare fact: depending on location, prior to some point between 1788 and a century or so later, the land was subject to Aboriginal law and occupation. After that point it was made subject to British law and occupation, and most Australians are inheritors and descendants of the latter.

This makes even some conservative Australians uncomfortable. We don’t really get to be ‘relaxed and comfortable’, as John Howard would say, or have a ‘license to dwell’, as Scruton might put it.  This feeling of guilty illegitimacy is exploited by activists black and white, including those teaching in our children’s classrooms. It puts our whole right to feel proud of ourselves and connected with our country into question, this perspective helped by the fact that many Australians are increasingly ‘anywheres’, as author David Goodhart termed them: people – usually educated liberal elites — who are happy to live anywhere they find convenient and attractive because they feel no particular attachment to their land or country.

Those that do feel rooted in Australia, or even just want to feel rooted here in the face of cultural headwinds, are left angry by an Aboriginal rights agenda that, if pursued to its ultimate degree, would seek to make them homeless while in the meantime telling them they can only feel at home when conditions dictated by the activists are met. Often these are working class ‘somewhere’ Australians who share a very definite sense of place and belonging.

So, are they no better than children petulantly clinging on to the toy they’ve stolen from its rightful owner? There are, I believe, two very strong reasons in principle not to think so, but rather to believe all Australians do in fact have a license to dwell in the land without unease. The reasons are complex and difficult to navigate but I believe cogent and powerful once understood.

The first is our inherent dignity as an inherited and lived community. The second is our society’s extraordinary success in the modern world and its place as the bearer of most of what we rely upon and even hold dear. Let me explain. Cultures and communities are notoriously hard to define. Yet unquestionably both of these have been created by the British and other arrivals since 1788 to make an Australian people.

As the spread of people arrived from Britain and Ireland in Australia — first convicts, soldiers and administrators, then increasingly free settlers — they had to establish two key sets of relationships: firstly, with one another and, secondly, with the land. The process whereby they did that formed a culture we can recognise as distinctively Australian. It has changed over time but has a direct line to those people who disembarked on January 26, 1788, and immediately began ordering their relationships with one another, making a thousand adjustments as they settled into a new place with comparative strangers and forming a common understanding and way of behaving that allowing shared goals and mutual cohabitation. This included the development of foundational institutions.

Someone may counter that this was just British and Irish society transplanted. To be sure, there is a deep debt that Australian culture owes to the British isles. The arrivals were only comparative strangers to each other; they had a strong shared inheritance stretching back centuries and more, even in conflict. But Britain, Ireland, Wales and Scotland were far across the sea.

Likewise, they had to form a relationship with the land in the new continent, its flora and fauna, its landscapes and waterways, its soils and its weather. It was an uneasy relationship at times, but one of growing knowledge and attachment. Children were born, livestock raised, crops sown and harvested, people buried and mourned, memories and communities formed. The land, being unlike Britain and Ireland, formed its people in its own way.


THIS WAS a porous culture, of course, looking back mostly to Britain and Ireland and always informed by the waves of migrants who brought the latest habits of their homelands. But it was this identifiable shared experience that Australia’s politicians could point to during the Federation movement, asking if Australia was one nation or many. William McMillan, Colonial Treasurer of New South Wales, echoed the thoughts of many when he asked the 1890 Australasian Federation Conference:

Does any man travelling among the colonies, directly he has passed the wretched custom-houses on the Border, ever feel that he is in a foreign country? (12 February 1890)

On the foundation of this culture was built not just the nation but the many institutions that we know and value, influencing the culture again in their turn.

Now this culture itself can claim to be intrinsically valuable, as much as any that went before it or exists outside of it. Were we to ask why another country shouldn’t simply take control of Australia, as Russia has sought to do with Ukraine, we are entitled to answer: because this is ours, emerging from our lives lived together over generations and worth holding on to.

But does this argument not merely open us to the claim that Aboriginal culture is also unique and, moreover, one with a much longer history and a prior claim on this continent? Leaving aside whether it is in fact one culture or many (could a pre-1788 Aborigine credibly claim that no matter how many tribal territorial borders were crossed he was not in a foreign country?), we can affirm its intrinsic worth on the same grounds as we affirm the worth of the post-1788 culture. But this does not set aside the value of the post-1788 culture or undermine the assertion that it, too, is a spiritual home in which modern Australians are entitled to dwell.

As has been frequently pointed out, arguments against our own culture based on time and prior existence are very dubious. Firstly, once a new culture has established itself, expressed in continuing communities, the time for remedy has passed. There is no way to compare the claim of a continuing culture and community that might have been against one that actually exists on the lands it inhabits.

And introducing the concept of time (or generations) provides no meaningful way of claiming a prior right unless the most primordial (indeed, arch-conservative) ideas are invoked. If applied consistently, these would plunge the world into an endless series of wars as groups which are older occupiers of territories rise up against the present inhabitants by claim of right. If acted on, such a claim always involves the further dispossession of present living, breathing communities, whether done violently or, as in Australia, by legal stealth or at the insistence of the ‘anywhere’ elites.

What about the claim that Aborigines enjoy a deeper connection to the land than anything post-1788 arrivals can claim due to the spiritual nature of their culture? This is  exactly what those welcomes to country are meant to meanAborigines know the land and love it, but you are a flaky fly-by-nighter here, running round on the surface, probably abusing the environment, while they care for it like their mother.

This popular romantic notion makes incredible assumptions. When my daughter recently spent time in a remote Aboriginal community, she heard a lot of complaints by local leaders that they couldn’t get their young people off Tik-Tok. The idea that most Aborigines are ‘loving country’ in the old ways is questionable at best, especially if one pauses to note the rubbish and, all too often, the squalor evident in so many of these communities.

Furthermore, even in the age of Tik-Tok, many post-1788 Australians do love their country, feel close to the land and want others to feel the same. However, the constant refrain that they don’t really belong, a meme tirelessly pushed via the education system, encourages a perception of the alleged rootlessness used against them. But at bottom it is impossible in the real world to measure relative ‘connectedness’, to arbitrate the claim of this deeper connection and absurd to try.

However, there is another very powerful reason why contemporary Australian post-1788 culture has a claim to belong: at present it and it alone is able to form a society and nation able to consistently manage modernity. By ‘manage’ I mean to claim its benefits and mitigate its harms. No society or nation is viable in the contemporary world unless it can do this. By ‘modernity’ I mean the rapid development of technology combined with impersonal and mobile forms of social organisation long prevalent in the West and, indeed, in many other countries. I make no claim that modern cultures are somehow superior to ancient cultures, nor that we handle it perfectly; only that modernity is here and must be dealt with by any society wishing to claim ‘success’ in some basic measures. Any and all of modernity’s many manifestations — guns, diseases and their remedies, the society of strangers, enclosed land, professional bureaucracies, competing belief systems, drugs, science, corporations, media, money, trade, ideas of freedom etc – they all would have come to Australia one way or another. And their effect would have been monumental regardless how and whence they came.

It is no disrespect to the Aboriginal people to say that it is very unlikely that a culture (or, more correctly) cultures so long secluded, whose success was largely measured by the ability to maintain cohesion amongst close-knit communities and wring sufficient food from the land (Bruce Pascoe’s spurious claims notwithstanding), would have had many meaningful defences against the problems modernity presents. Indeed, the only way to stop others setting foot on their soil would have been to quickly adopt modern methods, with all the cultural dislocation that would have resulted.

The undoubtedly real impoverishment of many Aboriginal Australians, now sheeted home to the oppression of post-1788 “invaders”, is more than anything the result of the extended process of a culture long shielded from modernity and still struggling to deal with it. We can sympathise with the pain of the incongruity between modern life and an ancient cultural heritage. The disorientation was, and in many cases still is, profound. But we can also see it as an unavoidable development without feeling at fault. In the end, only Aboriginal Australians can come to terms with modernity and find a viable form of life that incorporates it without being devastated by it. Many have done this, but in general it appears a long way off for many others. It will require accepting mainstream Australia as an invitation and an opportunity, rather than something to repudiate or with which to wrestle for some pre-eminent status.

But, looking for someone else to blame, black and white activists claim that if Aboriginal Australians are recognised as independently sovereign enough, these issues would be solved. Far from it! Rather, it could make them worse, as it provides a plethora of opportunities to avoid the challenges of modernity — opportunities that are already legion in the pretend world increasingly being constructed for Aborigines in the name of reconciliation.


WHAT has this to do with the post-1788 Australians’ ‘license to dwell’? Only this: when we rightly recognise that Australians live in relative wealth, freedom and peace, what we are saying is that we have found a form of life, a culture, that is successfully able to claim the benefits of modernity and mitigate its harms, however imperfectly. There are very few countries even today which have managed this. We are right to be proud of this achievement and to seek to conserve it and its rights against anyone who claims it is illegitimate and must give way. In fact it may be the highest good, for from it all our strength flows.

We can even reasonably make the claim that Aboriginal Australians may benefit by participating in what we have to offer on the understanding they, too, can’t shirk modernity by making economic, political and legal claims on a culture and body politic that is left to do the heavy lifting in dealing with the many challenges of the contemporary world.

As a conservative I have a well-grounded fear that what we have inherited is being eroded in many ways. Arguably the fundamental way to do this is to delegitimise it and remove our licence to dwell. This the activists know well, while many good-hearted Australians go along with it thinking it is the right thing to do. And so we are increasingly alienated from our heritage, the land and ourselves.

I wonder if those who seek to undermine our inheritance and their fellow travellers really understand what it would mean to dismantle the cultural ground on which we stand. It may be slow, but the wealth, freedom and peace would be dismantled likewise, and then we will all look longingly at our ancestors who really thought they belonged and consequently planted a civilisation they sought to see endure. Or we may recover our love of our continuing culture, assert our licence to dwell and welcome others who want to collaboratively wrestle from modernity its fruits without expecting others to do it for them.

[1] Scruton, Roger. The Soul of the World (p. 133). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

28 thoughts on “The Undermining of our License to Dwell

  • loweprof says:

    Couldn’t we all just self-identify as aboriginal?

  • rosross says:


    I have long thought the same. If everyone ticks the box then we get this sorted once and for all. Enough of the racist division on the basis of ancestral longevity.

  • Daffy says:

    I’ve always thought that it was remarkably socially just of Aborigines to welcome and accommodate the refugees from England, most of whom, of course, shared their goods with them. Of course some xenophobic Aborigines didn’t like the diversity that they were thus able to enjoy, because, as we know, our diversity is our strength (I think I saw that somewhere near an ancient midden). Nevertheless, as often happens when xenophobia is suppressed by ‘the other’ out-breeding’ and ‘out-successing’ the chronologically prior, it re-surfaces in a grab for goods that the prior culture is unable to produce. So envy and hostility emerges. But that’s the way it goes.
    I pay my respects to the prior inhabitants of this land and their generous accommodation of our now common refugee forebears and naturally to George III for wanting to share and trade with them. QED.

  • rosross says:


    Some did react as you suggest and not all settler/Aboriginal interactions were violent. It is hard to get excited about the British colonisation of Australia when the British had themselves been colonised a dozen times, very violently so and yet managed to make their way through it all very successfully.

    And there is no doubt just as the Britons appreciated the advanced technology of the Romans for example, so too did Aboriginal peoples value the things the British brought with them like iron axes, domesticated and easy to kill stock, cooking utensils and blankets to name just a few.

    Some of the smaller groups also took to camping next to the better armed and defended settlers as protection against other Aboriginal groups. An often symbiotic process of colonisation as no doubt it also was when those peoples later called Aborigines, invaded and colonised. Ever thus for humans.

  • Paul W says:

    It’s time to apply the standards of the Left to the Left: we live in a multicultural society and in a multicultural society no-one has less of a right to be here.

    That aside, there is a view that every Australian is just passing through, as if the Australian people are somehow less real than others, destined to eventually dissipate. It was a view that British nationalists first expressed back when they desired to ensure the colonies served the empire. Now the elite have long-since changed and yet they still can’t get rid of the pesky ‘Australianites’.

  • Brentyn Graham says:

    A very well written, true, and easy to understand article. I’ve noticed that in essays on this particular subject, no one ever mentions the word ‘patriotism’.
    Since 1788 Australians have fought to protect this country from proper invaders and, at the same time, protect all its inhabitants. No matter what anyone says, fundamentally, Australians really do try hard to look after one another if given the chance.(today at least)
    Patriotism is an inherent love of the land,(country), and, while I suppose there may be levels of it in very recent newcomers. I don’t think there can be any real difference in it between those who have lived here for thousands of years and those who have lived here for hundreds of years, ( and tens of years)

  • Ian MacDougall says:

    Two points: 1. I wish to acknowledge the original owners of this land, who were of course the ancestral Tasmmanian Aborigines. All since: Murrayan Aborigines, Carpentarian Aborigines, Torres Strait Islanders and of course all post 1788 arrivals from Europe and elsewhere are blow-ins and Johnny-come-latelies.
    2. There is only one rule of territory in Nature, observed by all animals since time immemorial: If you can’t defend it, you don’t own it. All except the post-1788 arrivals have so far failed that test.

  • STD says:

    R yes, when one politically divides one against one- guess which political spectrums are unselfishly number 1? . In Union is strength, so just divide and conquer.


    The same old revisionist tripe dressed up in a subtle apartheid sauce with multiculti side salad. Divide and rule. Make Australia your home or reclaim it as your home but whatever you do don’t become Australians.

  • Peter OBrien says:

    Chris, thank you very much for a well thought out article. I agree with you 100%.

  • pmprociv says:

    Thanks, Chris, for a most intelligent, sympathetic and articulate analysis of this complex situation. I fully agree with your sentiments, and with the comments generated.
    Culture can be a vexed subject, largely because it means such different things to different people. Far more that story-telling, dancing, singing, painting (performing and fine arts), it encompasses essentially all the behavioral adaptions of a community that ensure its survival, beyond just neurophysiologically-driven responses (reflexes, instincts). For me, its best anthropological definition is STAB-PC: Socially Transmitted Adjustable Behaviour that Becomes a population Characteristic (which can be applied to many other species). Accepting that, we can safely assume that all cultures perpetually evolve, as populations change and move among changing environments. That makes “traditional indigenous culture” in Australia meaningless, for everybody’s lifestyles have changed dramatically since 1788 — even inhabitants of today’s remote communities demand permanent, comfortable housing, reliable food supplies, clean water, electricity, personal transport, modern health care, good communications, TV etc..
    “In the end, only Aboriginal Australians can come to terms with modernity and find a viable form of life that incorporates it without being devastated by it. Many have done this, but in general it appears a long way off for many others.” Very true, but it seems that the minority (ca. 20%) living in remote areas is always being held up as representative, both by local activists and foreign critics. The impoverishment of remote communities has nothing to do with racism or colonialism, but arises from their refusal to take active, responsible advantage of what the country has to offer, other than simply living off welfare (I’ll overlook those communities in which a small number of powerful individuals snaffle most of the resource royalties). Apart from the affluent activists, we hear very little from, or of, those of Aboriginal descent who have fared very well; it seems victimhood is far more chic than prosperity.
    The intimate link to land and nature is a furphy; all people who work closely with and/or survive directly off the land feel attached to it (as my wife and I do, having re-grown a rainforest on our former pastureland). And, as described in the article, I too have seen first-hand some pretty depressing examples of environmental neglect, and abuse of wildlife, in remote communities; not noble savagery.
    What we really need to know, but have yet to be told, is the ultimate goal of all the current activism, the claims for “sovereignty” and “independence” and “land rights”. Does anyone really want to revert to the lifestyle of the “Old People”? To reject all the benefits of modern “Western” technology? To remove all the people who brought that technology with them? Interesting times, indeed.

  • John Cook says:

    Loweprof has the answer. Anyone born here is indigenous. We should declare ourselves to be so.

  • Brian Boru says:

    “It will require accepting mainstream Australia as an invitation and an opportunity, rather than something to repudiate or with which to wrestle for some pre-eminent status.” That’s what I would call reconciliation. Let’s hope we can eventually get to that.

  • Peter Smith says:

    Indigenous communities often cannot compete as effectively in modern life as can populations as a whole. American Indians for example. African Americans equally have difficulty in the U.S. In part this might be, could be, an IQ thing. No shame in that, if it is. I’m not that bright. The problem is that these communities form an identifiable cultural-cum-racial minority. Race pimps work on this over decades to convince their victims that they are in fact victims of colonisation; of white oppression. It’s been pandered to for decades. Let’s pander some more by inventing an inane ‘voice’. No one in Australia should have license to squat in remote areas offering no opportunities for work and expect handouts and government services. No Australian should expect privileges based on their racial origins.
    Pandering has created the mess. Why think that more pandering will clean it up? Of course, we’ll go on pandering and creating more mess. That’s been the history; that will be the future. There is much ruin in nation. And much more when racial politics is about.

  • john mac says:

    In no meaningful way did the Aborigines “manage” the land , or weather for that matter. They were totally dominated by nature. Rock paintings and crude wooden weapons and tools aside , left no evidence of their existence here. “First Nations” status is beyond farcical , yet the media take it as gospel and “welcome to Country ” , a modern contrivance and indulgence , precedes EVERY public gathering now . My niece’s football team won their under 13 premiership yesterday and before the awards were given out , the SANFL rep forced us to listen to the long version on a Sunday morn and no doubt secured the fealty of all the young girls there for the future. Front page of the Advertiser today,, our local rag , five scowling Aboriginal girls in Port guernseys, and native garb , the same photo again a few pages in . You’d think there might be SOMETHING to smile about for the new team , propped up by the AFL , but that wouldn’t fit the narrative of permanent grievance of course , and the “bennies” owed them . I fear they’ll win , such is the apathy , ignorance and misplaced goodwill of my fellow Australians .

  • john mac says:

    Peter (Smith) IQ is the one constant in racial behaviour , not the only thing of course but one we can take to the bank . Our pandering , whether North America , here , South Africa and Europe is all for nought . Thanks to our academics “intellectuals” , politicians , media and (disgracefully) big business, we now have both Indigenous , and African populations with anger and grievance ramped up to 11 , as Nigel Tufnel might say .The daily , horrific and incomprehensible violence committed by the black population upon Asians and Caucasians in the US alone , completely ignored or downplayed by the truly evil media is a civilizational threat to the west , far more than whatever Muslim attacks occur . The randomness is the scariest thing . I have seen hundreds of youtube , or website videos of sickening acts , yet the Floyd narrative dominates discourse , brooking no dissent . That , Ferguson , Breonna Taylor etc are all based on provable falsehoods, yet the world is subject to self-flagellation only . That Australia must tolerate even one mass gang fight between Africans is intolerable to me , let alone weekly stabbings , break-ins, Airbnb house trashings , and every ad on tv featuring them , and I mean EVERY ad . For those advocating the “Voice” be prepared for more , not less violence , and expect to be denied entry or access to parts of Australia , all with the collusion of big business (Coles , the big 4 banks , the AFL/NRL etc. and the whole political class. Reconciliation is not their goal , retribution more like it .

  • padraic says:

    I agree with PeterO’Brien in saying – Chris, thank you very much for a well thought out article. I agree with you 100%. … Recognition at last. I thought we older Australians had been airbrushed out of history with the “3 strands” of Aboriginal, British and Migrant, so beloved of academics. Re Brentyn Graham’s comment that articles seem not to mention “patriotism” I consider it is more than implied in this article by Chris. Some of us have included the term in commentary on different occasions as per my comment on an article by Walter Waverley as follows:
    26th June 2022
    Thanks Walter for another enlightening article. I particularly appreciated the video of David Lewkovitz interviewing school children at a “School Strike 4 Climate” gathering outside Sydney Town Hall. It showed how the Greens have infiltrated the education system, and quite blatantly, as there was a Green politician at the “Strike” overseeing the process. I have sent the video to some friends for their information (and horror). But it is not just at Public Schools where this is occurring. There was an insert recently in The Australian which was a guide to independent schools which shows that they too are contaminated with this “woke” Green philosophy. I have printed below some extracts from the promotional material of the various schools. Only one school addressed the issue of drug abuse which is rampant in the community and destroys lives and livelihoods, nothing about love of or being proud of one’s country or patriotism and nothing on “Civics”. The main thrust seems to be about self-directed learning, wellbeing, resilience, mental health, student advocacy on environmental issues, becoming leaders of the future and being global citizens.

  • Farnswort says:

    “It is no disrespect to the Aboriginal people to say that it is very unlikely that a culture (or, more correctly) cultures so long secluded, whose success was largely measured by the ability to maintain cohesion amongst close-knit communities and wring sufficient food from the land (Bruce Pascoe’s spurious claims notwithstanding), would have had many meaningful defences against the problems modernity presents.”

    Perhaps the outside world could have been kept out for a bit longer had Arthur Phillip and the First Fleet not arrived in 1788. But Australia’s isolation was destined to end. At some point settlers and migrants from elsewhere were going to land somewhere on the Australian continent, disrupting the long seclusion of the Aboriginals. Britain was hardly the only power interested in Australia. It has been argued – most recently by Margaret Cameron-Ash in her book “Beating France to Botany Bay” – that the French had their own plans to colonise Australia.

    Isolation was a blessing and a curse for the various Aboriginal tribes. As Geoffrey Blainey wrote in “The Story of Australia’s People: The Rise and Fall of Ancient Australia”:
    “For ages the Aborigines had relied heavily on isolation. It was their asset and their liability, and gave them long-term control of the continent. But if their isolation were to end, as it ultimately had to end with a shrinking world, their whole way of life could be fractured. Even the arrival of a few thousand permanent settlers, whether from Europe or Asia, would be like the first tremors of an earthquake.”

  • Farnswort says:

    An enjoyable and thoughtful piece – thanks Chris.

  • STD says:

    @ Ian MacDougall .
    I am of the presumption that you would be in-complete accord with the geography pertaining to Climate Change (CC) vis a vis Global Warming( Agenda….) as it pertains to the darkened hall’s (hallows) of “If you can’t defend it- you don’t own it”, febrile truth.
    Who exactly owns the make-up of weather ,Ian?
    Point 2, I wish to acknowledge the aspirational Marxist lefts agenda for all of Australia and her Australians regardless of whether it is indeed in their complete interests or not.

  • Jack Brown says:

    “Australians are increasingly ‘anywheres’, as author David Goodhart termed them: people – usually educated liberal elites — who are happy to live anywhere they find convenient and attractive because they feel no particular attachment to their land or country” reads the text. The qualification of “usually educated liberal elites” one should have added “dwelling in coastal cities”. No wonder they have no particular attachment to “land or country”. John Howard, beloved of coast hugging conservatives even banished the word “country” replacing it with “bush” when his leafy north shore environs had far more bush than most country areas and the media quickly latched onto this disparaging term albeit later replacing it to some degree with the cumbersome city coined jatgon term “rural and regional Australia”. Country people, including those from country towns, have an attachment to land and country, with visits back to towns and environs of one’s childhood reminding one of those times, down to the colour of the soil, town lookout etc as having significance.

  • john.singer says:

    Great Article Chris.
    Waxing philosophical – Back in the 1990’s, I drove about 4 hours each way to attend a short lecture in the Sydney Entertainment Centre by Deepak Chopra. He greeted us with “I know you have all taken a breath, but did you realize you were breathing Archimedes, Alexander, Galileo and Leonardo Da Vinci?” He went on to explain that as we exhale we expel molecules of ourselves and as we inhale we acquire a little of the essence of other people. Whether you believe this or not it is not a concept taught in Australian schools.
    Nor do these schools encourage you to think about Love of Country (Homeland) or even what constitutes a Race. Is it inherited features like skin colour, facial features, hard wiring in the brain? But these are all products of DNA and not products of domicile. Perhaps it is love of the land. Perhaps it is but how is that acquired?
    Early Aboriginal people living in Australia led a Usufructory existence in that their very existence relied on the taking and partaking of the “Fruits of the Land”. So that everything that constituted them came from DNA supplemented with what they obtained from the Flora and Fauna of the land. The same could be said of the Europeans who pioneered settlement away from Sydney and the imported foodstuffs that came with fleets from England, Africa and East Asia.
    So if the sole difference becomes DNA then there is only one race Homo Sapien and the only change in relationship is the number of generations away from Africa. But then how do you explain the differences in appearance. Then obviously it is a combination of mutations in DNA reproduction and the environmental pressures upon them. As all of us have drifted away from the full Usufructuary diet few if any of us have a 100% relationship with the past.
    You can explore this further or not but it should at least make you question some of the “Truths” you have been taught by your very narrow education. In that very narrow education there is a rejection of Carbon, the progenitor of ALL life on this planet. Or its minor subset the amalgamation of all exhalations carrying the essence of all past existences within a gas we call Carbon Dioxide which we denounce as an existential threat.

  • rosross says:

    @Ian MacDougall –

    You said: Two points: 1. I wish to acknowledge the original owners of this land, who were of course the ancestral Tasmmanian Aborigines. All since: Murrayan Aborigines, Carpentarian Aborigines, Torres Strait Islanders and of course all post 1788 arrivals from Europe and elsewhere are blow-ins and Johnny-come-latelies.

    What is the relevance of ‘who got here first’ given that we all came out of Africa and in planetary terms, those peoples the British called Aborigines were also blow-ins and Johnny-come-latelies?

    And how can ancestral longevity have any relevance in a modern democratic age? Who cares if the first Homo Sapiens to arrive in what we call Australia rocked up 50,000 years ago? Unless you want a ladder-effect for Australians then tracing a bit of your ancestry back thousands of years, while personally interesting, is democratically irrelevant and you are no different to someone who traces their ancestry in Australia back thousands of minutes, hours or days.

  • Paul W says:

    This entire nonsense of an entire continent belonging to a single ‘race’ is mind-bogglingly stupid. No-wonder the Government of the Few i.e. the Australian Government has fallen for it.
    Aborigines had no conception of Australia as a nation or homeland or continent. Everyone that today uses the word Australia in these senses is adopting a non-Aboriginal view.
    Furthermore, the continent at the time was called New Holland, not Australia. So Ancient Aborigines lived in New Holland, not in Australia. At first this seems strange to say but it actually is of great value. The concept of being Australian developed here over time and is therefore indigenous (meaning native). The Australians named themselves after the name that they chose for their continental homeland (invented c. ~1815).
    And you can’t steal your own homeland. If anyone says anything contrary, just call them racist. Because that’s exactly what it is.

  • Farnswort says:

    Paul W: “Aborigines had no conception of Australia as a nation or homeland or continent. Everyone that today uses the word Australia in these senses is adopting a non-Aboriginal view.”

    This is an important point. Australia as we know it is a relatively modern creation. This should be self-evident but, alas, we live in a moronic age. The pre-contact Aboriginal inhabitants did not have a common name or identity; they regarded each other as rivals and enemies. They lived in semi-nomadic tribes; they did not form national units. They had a deep understanding of the natural environment but they did not conceive Australia as a single continent.

    As the late John Hirst observed:
    “The European discovery rather than Aboriginal occupation constitutes Australia’s pre-history. Australia — its economy, society and polity — is a construction of European civilisation. Australia did not exist when traditional Aborigines occupied the continent. Aborigines have been participants in Australian history, but that story begins with all the others in 1788.”

  • pmprociv says:

    In the academic and corporate worlds, it seems the term “disruption” has become fashionable in recent decades, and its practitioners praised and duly rewarded. I’ve seen CVs in which the job applicant has conspicuously listed all the changes he/she instituted in his/her previous position, although rarely are the results of such changes mentioned (of course, some of these candidates didn’t stick around to find out; they hoped to escape the havoc they’d set in motion). Nevertheless, people are promoted into lucrative positions of power, such as CEOs and university VCs, on the basis of their disruptive reputations.
    Well, a great disruption was initiated on our continent in 1788, and you’d think our pinnacles of Western civilization, the corporate giants and universities, would be proudly celebrating it to high heaven. Why is that not so?

  • Elizabeth Beare says:

    I am torn between loving the Britain of my ancestral origin and the Australia I mostly grew up in. But my children are not torn at all – they see themselves as Australians, and their children as Australians too. We are developing generational genetic depth as a family. I recall my childhood in the outer Western suburbs of Sydney which have changed so much since I lived there, firstly in some of the original Housing Commission homes of the St. Mary’s area, and later as a young teen on a five-acre scratch farm in Mt. Druitt. The vista of the blue mountains from the church on the hill at St. Mary’s lives deep in my consciousness, every ridge and fall of it sings to me as music. This is my land and my people’s land now.

    Yet in Britain recently tracing my patrilineal history, I come from immigrants to Britain, late sixteenth and early seventeeth century Huguenots who fled the Spanish Catholic Duke of Alba’s late sixteenth killing field pogroms in the Low Countries. They transferred their land reclamation skills to the great seventeeth century drainages of Britain’s eastern coastal fenlands and salt marshes, finishing what the Romans had started there.

    My DNA according to is a mixture though, some of it going back to the ancient Britons in Scotland, Ireland and Wales, and some of it coming from Norway and Denmark and Germany.
    The majority who have aboriginal ancestry in Australia, including some in my family now, also have British and Irish ancestry. All that any of us have is the Right to Dwell where we have made our home, where memories lie, and where there is a polity, a welcoming Nation to serve and to love.

    Trying to claim ‘anterior’ rights anywhere in world terms is just plain bonkers.
    We have all arrived from elsewhere, aboriginal peoples included. Making the arrival time definitional is both delusional and without justice.

  • pmprociv says:

    I almost fully agree with you, Elizabeth, having been born in Austria, to parents displaced from Ukraine and Russia by WWII, and arriving in Oz at the age of 18 months — except that I feel fully Australian, with no allegiance to anywhere else. That’s been consolidated over the last 15 years by growing our own rainforest on 25 acres — my wife and I are intimately tied to the land, which we love and understand. Anyone with even a skerrick of knowledge of European history will appreciate that not a single person there has a “pure” ancestral lineage. The incessant wars and migrations over countless millennia mean that all its “races” and nationalities are pure fabrications, made up of genetically entangled populations whose ancestry ultimately goes back to Africa (as does that of the ATSI people, most of whom are mainly European anyway, as you say). The sooner we stop obsessing about people’s ancestry here, the better it will be for everybody.

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