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Australia: PM says there is ‘no doubt’ country was invaded by Britain


Under-fire Australian Prime Minister claims it was “fair” to describe Britain’s colonization of the country as a foreign invasion.

Malcolm Turnbull made the controversial remarks as he awkwardly tried to repair his flagging relationship with Aboriginal Australians.

The Prime Minister said the country was in the midst of a “reconciliation” with Aboriginal communities.

However, critics have said the invasion statement was shameless pandering in the run-up to an election in just a few weeks.


Malcolm Turnbull says British settlement of Australia was an ‘invasion’

Mr Turnbull was asked by reporters on Tuesday if he accepted the term “invasion” to describe the British colonization of Australia in 1788.

He said: “Well, I think it can be fairly described as that and I’ve got no doubt obviously our first Aboriginal Australians describe it as an invasion.

“The facts are very well known. This country was Aboriginal land. It was occupied by Aboriginal people for tens of thousands of years – 40,000 years.

“So this was, is and always will be Aboriginal land.”

Turnbull has desperately tried to pull the Liberals back up the polls

But, he added the debate over the white settlement of Australia was just a “historical argument about a word”.

The furore over Britain’s colonisation comes as Mr Turnbull desperately tries to catch up in election polls ahead of the July 2 national vote.

The opposition leader, Bill Shorten, had earlier claimed he would a sign a treaty with Indigenous Australians, piling pressure on Mr Turnbull.

The Prime Minister, in turn, said there needed to be “practical reconciliation” between the government and Indigenous people but distanced himself from treaty talks.

He explained that a treaty “adds a level of uncertainty that puts at risk the constitutional recognition process”.

He explained: “We have to be very careful that you don’t set hares running that undermine the real goal, which is to secure an overwhelming majority for constitutional recognition of our first Australians.”

He said a treaty could jeopardise the referendum on Aboriginal rights next year.

The government has signalled it will hold a referendum on constitutional recognition of indigenous people in 2017.

Mr Shorten, however, accused the prime minister of not listening to what indigenous people want, calling his remarks “complete rubbish” and saying both symbolic and practical recognition were important.


Calls for greater right for Aboriginal Australians have grown

He added: “I know, through getting out and about with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, that just simply pretending the constitutional recognition, reform on its own is the answer to all the problems, it isn’t.

“There is a level of cynicism amongst parts of the Australian community that somehow constitutional reform in and of itself will deliver all the other outcomes.”

He said: “The fact that your skin colour is a more likely predictor in Australia of whether or not you will get a custodial sentence is unacceptable.

“For too long there’s been the wars between should you have symbolic recognition or practical reconciliation. I think both are important.”


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Sydney Chesterfield

Poet, Playwright, Philosopher, Humanitarian, mad lover of children and unflinching fighter for equality on all grounds viz. Women's rights, child rights, sine die.

Twitter: @syd_field