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July 31, 2021

First Fleet troubles

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Mark Riddell, New Brighton

On reading The Echo’s Backlash column on 27 January, it appears it has set itself up as an expert source of information in regard to Australian history.

It shows several errors in the PM’s comments, and then rightly draws attention to his wrong-headed comment ‘it wasn’t a particularly flash day for people on those vessels either’.

Yet it seems it can’t help itself when it makes the flippant and snide remark, ‘Umm, sea sickness is not really the same as cultural genocide, though is it?’.

The following information can be found in a couple of minutes on the net with no claim of deep accuracy:

On the First Fleet between 43 and 48 people died (depending on the source) – men, women, and children – including a marine, suggesting privilege did not protect.

On the Second Fleet, 1,006 convicts aboard, one quarter died during the voyage and around 40 per cent were dead within six months of arrival.

I do not in any way attempt to equate convict and Aboriginal experiences. But whatever else happened to those poor, benighted people on the ships, it was a lot worse than an upset tummy.

 


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