This Is How “Unsettled” Australia Was Before The British Arrived In 1788

Apparently, Tony Abbott needs to brush up on his history.

Note: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are warned that this post contains images of deceased persons.

The Prime Minister delivered the keynote address to the Australian-Melbourne Institute on Thursday, and made some interesting comments about Australian history…

Flickr: mystifyme07 / Creative Commons

When questioned about foreign investment in real estate, Tony Abbott said, “Our country is unimaginable without foreign investment. I guess our country owes its existence to a form of foreign investment by the British government in the then unsettled or, um, scarcely settled, Great South Land.”

Apparently, Mr Abbott forgot about a few things…

People have been living in Australia for over 50,000 years.

Flickr: aiawebteam / Creative Commons

Some of the oldest human remains have been found in Lake Mungo, with Mungo Lady and Mungo Man providing evidence that ritual burials occurred 42,000 years ago.

en.wikipedia.org

Prior to European arrival, Indigenous people inhabited the whole of Australia, from the Torres Strait down to Tasmania.

ian woolcock/ian woolcock

Before 1788, there was an estimated population of 750,000 people in Australia.

Flickr: peternijenhuis / Creative Commons

That Indigenous population was growing until European arrival caused it to decline.

Flickr: globalcitizen01 / Creative Commons

Indigenous peoples lived in over 500 different nations with distinct cultures.

Flickr: ebriel / Creative Commons

The Indigenous cultures of Australia are the oldest living cultures in the world.

David Gray / Reuters

There were over 700 different Aboriginal languages prior to 1788. (Now there are less than 250 in use.)

David R Horton / Aboriginal Studies Press / AIATSIS / Via abc.net.au

The concept of terra nullius (that Australia was “land belonging to no one” when the Europeans arrived) was overturned by the High Court of Australia in the Mabo case in 1992.

AAP Image/National Archives of Australia

update

When asked for comment, Senator for the Northern Territory Nova Peris, the first Indigenous woman in parliament, told BuzzFeed, “I’d have thought 50,000 years of existing on the continent would have qualified as settled.”

AAP Image/Lukas Coch

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