The Daily Telegraph’s cultural amnesia

How else to explain this monumentally silly front page? Oh, apart from shit-stirring for fun and profit…


If you look at the UNSW material you will see it says no such thing. The guidelines are not even new.

The information on this page was adapted from “Using the right words: appropriate terminology for Indigenous Australian studies”, in Teaching the Teachers: Indigenous Australian Studies for Primary Pre-Service Teacher Education, School of Teacher Education, University of New South Wales, 1996.)

All staff and students of the University rely heavily on language to exchange information and to communicate ideas. However, language is also a vehicle for the expression of discrimination and prejudice as our cultural values and attitudes are reflected in the structures and meanings of the language we use. This means that language cannot be regarded as a neutral or unproblematic medium, and can cause or reflect discrimination due to its intricate links with society and culture.

This guide clarifies appropriate language use for the history, society, naming, culture and classifications of Indigenous Australian and Torres Strait Islander people.

By 1996 those of us without tin ears were seeking such clarification. Though I was not aware of the 1996 version of the document at the time, I certainly would have been grateful for it when compiling the original version of my own classroom materials now stored at 3 — Indigenous Australians.

The core of this page was created in 1997-1998 as material to support HSC English study of Wild Cat Falling*. It was modified and added to 12-15 August 2005 to support a Year 11 unit at Sydney Boys High. Now it is time for a thorough revision. A lot of water has gone under the bridge since the core of this site was created in the late 90s. I refer you to Bain Attwood, Telling the Truth About Aboriginal History, Allen & Unwin 2005 and as starting points for further study, go to Wikipedia on The History Wars and my blog entry Stuart Macintyre and Anna Clark, The History Wars. But I will tell you something for free: few better things have been said about Indigenous Australians than Paul Keating’s Redfern Speech of 1992.

In my own case I has deeply moved by the Bicentennial in 1988 when I participated in this march:

PatFiske-AboriginalProtestinAustraliaDaze-1988-NFSA_web See also this blogger: Weighing Up the Past: Australia’s Bicentennial Scrapbook.

“If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree. ”
― Michael Crichton

This is my third and final post about revisiting Australia’s Bicentenary through through the pages of a copy of The  Australian Women’s Weekly, January, 1988, which I recently found in a local op shop…

It has been interesting seeing how buying a vintage magazine at the op shop has opened my eyes to so many things and made me see the Australian Bicentenary in a completely different light. That said, I have been conscious for some time that celebrating Australia Day on 26th January is not showing sensitivity or compassion towards our Indigenous people who were displaced and so often subjected to horrific crimes of abuse. This is our national shame and we shouldn’t just bury that under the carpet and pretend that nothing ever happened. We can’t. To be honest, it continues as well.


At that time I also met many Aboriginal people, notably Kristina Nehm, and had conversations that thus far in my life I had never had the opportunity to have. In other words I learned that this country had indeed been invaded – from the point of view of those already here, if not strictly speaking by Captain Cook then certainly by those who followed taking up the claim of possession made by planting the Union Jack. If you don’t like the word “invasion” then show me the invitation the Eora issued and I’ll agree with you.

But let me repeat: the UNSW material nowhere says “Captain Cook invaded Australia”.

It is just so silly that the Telegraph trotted out this beat-up as if nothing had happened since 1988 while suppressing the information that the suggestions made in the document are twenty years old and only mildly controversial. If anyone is rewriting the history of Australia and of Indigenous studies it is the Daily Telegraph, not the University of New South Wales.

See also ‘Invaded’ not settled: UNSW rewrites history, Australia’s ‘history wars’ reignite and  Culture bores avoiding truth on White Australia.

The only academic The Daily Telegraph could find for comment was Keith Windschuttle, best known for his denial of the Stolen Generations. “Under international law, Australia has always been regarded as a settled country according to the leading judgments in international law, both here and around the world,” he said. “Until the law changes, there is no sound basis on which to say invaded. That is wrong.”

The Institute of Public Affairs was also on hand to criticise the materials, saying they interfered with “the free flow of ideas”…

The guidelines that so incensed The Daily Telegraph were in fact prepared in 1996. It does not take much work to find this out. It is written on them.

This material is not controversial. It is fact. It engages with the terms on which white people arrived in Australia. It engages with the fact that white settlement involved the dispossession of a people, sometimes by force, always by coercive policy….

I may be dumb, but I don’t think Keith Windschuttle’s point is even relevant to interpreting Australia’s story before and after European incursion, settlement and dispossession. What period is he alluding to? What period do those judgements relate to?

Update: See Club Troppo, Resurrection of the History Wars by Ken Parish – particularly on Keith Windschuttle’s argument.

As you can see from the above image,  the Daily Telegraph revived John Howard’s History Wars the other day. Indeed they even disinterred Howard’s favourite undead RWNJ historian Keith Windschuttle to lend an air of faux integrity to the whole unedifying clickbait exercise…

Windschuttle’s characterisation of the historical international law position is in a sense accurate but also misleading and deceptive…

Just as Godwin’s Law supposedly renders Nazi analogies unacceptable in civilised discourse, surely media clickbait beat-ups about whether Australia was invaded and its inhabitants slaughtered should also be regarded as beyond the pale.