Its hard for a person to admit their wrongs, when those wrongs were committed by a collective–in this case Australia, its hard for the collective to accept their wrongs even happened. Yesterday I was in my usual online discourse (read: argument with friend) and in the course of that discussion I came across the following piece of historical legislation that highlights not only the subjugation of Australia’s first inhabitants, but also sheds light on a little bit of the War on Drugs mentality. If you are unfamiliar with the concept of War on Drugs, I suggest you look to Google for some background.
This (legacy) legislation had quite a significant impact on the indigenous population, as the link above states:
This document is the instrument effecting a major law directed at Aboriginal people in Queensland. It was followed in other Colonies and thus probably affected more Aboriginal people than any law until the passage of the Commonwealth Native Title Act 1992.
Founding Docs website
Wikipedia article on the Act goes further, claiming:
The creators of this Act saw it as a solution to a short term problem, but the administrators of the legislation had a different idea, and from the beginning used it as a device for social engineering and control. It became the instrument with which Aboriginal people could be stripped of the most basic human rights. The Act was the first measure of separate legal control over the Aboriginal people and as Reynolds has pointed out it ‘was far more restrictive than any [contemporary] legislation operating in New South Wales or Victoria, and implemented a system of tight controls and closed reserves.’
Administrators were able to gain control of Aboriginal affairs through the extensive use of Regulations which could be made lawful simply through proclamation by the Governor-in-Council. In this manner, decision-making passed from politicians to the public servants. The welfare of Aborigines was, after all, only one small part of a busy member’s portfolio. But not only did public servants have responsibility for a huge amount of delegated legislation, individual protectors had extensive autonomy in administering the Act and Regulations.
Emphasis mine. The explicit implication is that this was a case of enacting Narcotics legislation to control the indigenous peoples and their lands. If we look at this from a modern perspective, where Australia’s first inhabitants are disproportionately represented in our prison systems, it becomes not too much of a stretch of the imagination that this over-representation is by design and not by accident.
The wiki article derives from THE ABORIGINALS IN COLONIAL SOCIETY, 1840-1897 By Professor Henry Reynolds et al. It is some heavy reading, if you can approach the topic of our past injustices to our indigenous brothers then please read some–its a long document and covers nearly 100 years of injustices, but its information should never be collectively forgotten just because it paints us in a less than favorable light.