Memorial call for 'Aboriginal Wars'
By Glenn Milne, Sunday Telegraph
June 08, 2008 12:00am
IN the wake of the Stolen Generation apology, the Rudd Government is considering erecting an official memorial in Canberra commemorating indigenous Australians killed by white settlers in the so-called "Aboriginal Wars''.
The plan, which was immediately rejected by the RSL, would see a memorial erected alongside existing statues and sculptures to Australia's war dead on Anzac Ave, leading to the Australian War memorial.
The proposal comes from The Canberra Institute, headed by ACT Labor Senate candidate and former Hawke government adviser Peter Conway.
The government responded last week, advising Mr Conway the proposal would be considered by the Canberra National Memorials Committee, which approves the erection of national memorials on national land.
In its submission, the institute argued that the government's recent decision to erect a national memorial for the Boer War - "a British Colonial War conducted over a century ago'' - meant an "Aboriginal Wars'' memorial was also justified. The submission nominates a number of conflicts to be commemorated, including the Pemulwuy-led Hawkesbury and Nepean Wars from 1790, the Black Wars of Tasmania, the Port Phillip District Wars from 1830 to 1850, the Kalkodoon Wars of North West Queensland 1870 to 1890, and the Western Australian Conflict of 1890 to 1898.
The institute points out other colonial wars conducted at the same time as the "Aboriginal Wars'' are already recognised in Hall of Valour dioramas at the Australian War Memorial.
If such a memorial is built, it will face fierce resistance from the RSL. The RSL's Major-General (Ret) Bill Crews told The Sunday Telegraph the RSL would oppose the plan.
He said there was already a memorial for Aboriginal service men and women behind the Australian War Memorial.
"All of the memorials that have been established generally commemorate the role of Australians in conflicts outside Australia and there is no precedent for a civil-style conflict to be commemorated,'' he said.
The Federal Government yesterday announced the inclusion of the Myall Creek Aboriginal massacre site, near Inverell, on the National Heritage List at a 170-year memorial service.