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Prime Minister Scott Morrison has today doubled down on his argument that the 26th of January is a day worth celebrating, by suggesting that every single person involved in the First Fleet was having a bad time.
From the First Australians who were invaded, to the convicts who were sent here to build colonial infrastructure – all of whom did absolutely nothing wrong and maybe stole a loaf of bread, at the most. But also the Queen”
Yesterday, Labor and the Greens slammed Morrison after he argued the circumstances of settlement in 1788 had been difficult for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
“When those 12 ships turned up in Sydney all those years ago, it wasn’t a particularly flash day for the people on those vessels either,” he told reporters on Thursday.
About 750 convicts and 550 crew, soldiers and family members on 11 (not 12) ships travelled for 252 days over more than 24,000km, with about 48 dying on the journey – which many could argue wasn’t too flash – but probably a bit flasher than the 200 years that followed was for Aboriginal people.
However, today, in an effort to further dismiss the notion that January the 26th marks the beginning of a genocide, Morrison has today publicly sympathised with the aristocrats and seafarers who orchestrated the First Fleet – not just the poor convicts.
“Captain Phillip, he was an amazing guy” said Scotty.
“He was like the Andrew Ettingshausen of British navigators”
“And like all good Cronulla Sharks players, he had his flaws”
“He didn’t mean to engage in biological and colonial warfare. It was a position he was put in. January 26th was a flash day for him either”
“I doubt the Queen had a flash day either. It was just a bad day all round. So that’s why we should celebrate it, I guess”
In April 1789, a year after the arrival of the First Fleet, a sudden, unusual, epidemic of smallpox was reported amongst the Port Jackson Aboriginal tribes. This outbreak is purported have killed over 90 per cent of nearby native families and maybe three quarters or half of those between the Hawkesbury River and Port Hacking – many of whom were actively resisting settlers from the First Fleet.
The virus, which up until that point had never made its way passed continental Europe, also killed an unknown number at Jervis Bay and west of the Blue Mountains.
The journal of marine captain Watkin Tench indicates that the First Fleet carried bottles of smallpox. A plague that had previously swept through England with a 30% death rate. This virus, which often left hose who survived with extensive scarring of their skin and blindness – also had a much slower survival rate amongst babies.
This has left many historians questioning why Arthur Phillip and his crew would run the risk of transporting bottles of this bacteria halfway across the world.
When you also consider the fact that Captain Phillip also had one of the eleven vessels packed to the brim with ‘Brown Bess’ muzzle-loading smoothbore flintlock muskets, then questions arise over the Crown’s intentions upon arrival.
Morrison says he refuses to view this controversial holiday as anything more than an anniversary of things not being too flash, that we should celebrate.
“This isn’t a day to march against the ongoing intergenerational disadvantage and trauma faced by the same people that had those vials of smallpox spiked into their blankets.”
“It’s a day to suck on some piss and listen to some Skyhooks!”