'Tony Abbott has sparked outrage by claiming the British occupation of Australia was a good thing for the country’s indigenous people, despite decades of abuse and mistreatment.
“What happened on the 26th of January, 1788, was on balance, for everyone, Aboriginal people included, a good thing,” the former Australian prime minister told 2GB radio. “It’s hard to imagine a better Australia in the absence of the Western civilization that began here from that date. It brought Western civilization to this country. It brought Australia into the modern world."
Australia Day celebrates the British First Fleet’s arrival in Australia on January 26. It is commonly referred to as, “Invasion Day,” among Aboriginal people and those who recognize the negative effects of the British arrival on the indigenous population.
“The rule of law, equality of the sexes, scientific curiosity, technological progress, responsible government — plus the constant self-criticism and lust for improvement that makes us so self-conscious of our collective failings towards Aboriginal people — all date from then; and may not have been present to anything like the same extent had the settlers fanning out from Sydney Cove been other than British,” Abbott said.
Despite Abbott’s reference to Australia’s recognition of its failures, the country has yet to apologize or offer repatriations or a treaty to the indigenous population.
Aboriginal children were taken from their families between the 1890s and 1970s, and are known as the ‘Stolen Generations.’ They were placed in homes for children, or in the care of missions and foster parents while some were used as cheap labor. The aim was to assimilate the indigenous population within a few generations.'
Read more: British ‘Invasion Day’ benefitted aboriginals despite centuries of abuse - former Aussie PM