Dear BAC members,
Firstly, an interesting news item.
The Samuel Griffith Society runs an annual essay competition for people aged 35 and younger. In 2023 the topic is the voice referendum. Essay of up to 1,500 words (excluding references) should address the question: “Should the Constitution be amended to establish an ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice’, as proposed by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese?” Submissions are due by close of business (5 pm AEDT) on Monday 27 March 2023 by email to Julie Reid. (at email@example.com)
Secondly, we continue to work on preparing a statement concerning the Albanese government’s planned referendum for an indigenous voice. Like several other organisations, the BAC will be recommending a no vote. However, the BAC looks like being the only body to stand up for the interests of Anglo-Australians. While sympathetic with Aboriginal nationalism, the BAC document will balance this against the legitimate stake of those descended from the country’s British founders. The result is shaping up to be a distinctive defence of Australia’s constitutional order.
Thirdly, news of an important new book, Colonialism: A Moral Reckoning, by Nigel Biggar, Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology at Oxford University.
The Professor has been denounced and his original book contract cancelled. The book examines ethical questions. eg racism and violence. It does so by comparing past empires. The British case had its moral faults, but overall fares well in comparison.
The book addresses a number of moral questions, such as was the British Empire based on racism and violence? Unlike ideological approaches, Professor Biggar compares the Empire to other empires. He shows that despite lapses – yes there were examples of violence – by 1800 the Empire had developed into a relatively benign direction. The Australian colonies, for example, were self-governing by the 1830s. Slavery was outlawed in the 1807.
The main chapter headings indicate the complexity and balance of the analysis:
- Motives, good and bad;
- From slavery to anti-slavery;
- Human equality, cultural superiority and ‘racism’;
- Land, settlers and ‘conquest’;
- Cultural assimilation and ‘genocide’;
- Free trade, investment and ‘exploitation’;
- Government, legitimacy and nationalism;
- Justified force and ‘pervasive violence.
In an interview, Professor Biggar rhetorically asks why only European and especially British imperialism are forensically examined and anathematised. Answer: it’s because the critics are not interested in history but attacking present day Britain through such vehicles as the “decolonise the curriculum” movement.
We could add, it’s really an exercise in Anglophobia.
Frank Salter, BAC President