The Squatters' Grab

Wal Walker

The Squatters' Grab
Arcana Gallery
1 August 2023

The Squatters’ Grab

Wal Walker

Millions of Australians who will vote in the upcoming referendum have little knowledge of the history of our relations with the traditional owners.

In 1968, Bill Stanner, in his Boyer Lecture, questioned the great Australian silence, the cult of forgetfulness practiced on a national scale. Fifty-five years later there is still no comprehensive account of how the failure of governments and their administrations gave rise to the murder and dispossession of Indigenous Australians. The Squatters' Grab bridges this gap; it records the voices and experience of explorers, settlers and Aboriginals as the frontiers of settlement pushed rapidly out from Sydney, west then northward across the country. It includes those who recognised, respected and supported Indigenous people as well as the perpetrators of violence. It considers if settlement could have progressed cooperatively, without the extensive loss of Indigenous lives.

The Squatters' Grab looks at laws enacted in London by the King, Queen, Parliament and Secretaries of State for the Colonies in relation to Indigenous Australians. It examines how the law failed Aboriginal Australians so drastically, for so long; failing to acknowledge they had rights in their own country, denying them access to their land and their sources of food and water; denying them the right to appear in Court, to bring a charge or to defend themselves; treating them as enemy aliens, not citizens entitled to the rule of law. The Squatters' Grab examines the British experiment in Queensland, a new colony with a small white population, given its own Parliament at separation; how its foundation document, the Order in Council signed by Queen Victoria, was disobeyed, overwhelmed from the first by the squatters interests in collusion with the Governor and his Premier.

The Squatters' Grab considers the failure of governors, governments and administrations in the establishment of the Colony of Queensland. How its Native Police force, given relatively unfettered powers to ?disperse? Indigenous Australians, entrenched a culture of mutual fear, mistrust and dispossession. We are told that Queensland Native Police protected the squatters, not how they were placed at their disposal to disperse and massacre Indigenous people, ensuring squatters could take over Aboriginal country without being held responsible for the violence and murder.

The Squatters' Grab deals honestly with our past, it provides a history of the laws and administrations that failed Indigenous Australians. It is a book for the majority of Australian who have never found a clear and informative answer to what went wrong between the settlers and the First Australians. It is a resource for teachers and students across the country who are finally being given a curriculum that deals honestly with our past. The Squatters' Grab attempts to unravel why and how it all went so wrong!

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