Gooreng Gooreng elder Richard Jonson at Barney Pt. Photo Mike Richards / The Observer
Gooreng Gooreng elder Richard Jonson at Barney Pt. Photo Mike Richards / The Observer Mike Richards GLA310316RJON

"We don't have a treaty, it shows how racist Australia is."

WOULD it offend you if the words used to describe the arrival of Captain James Cook on the east coast of Australia in 1770 was changed from "discovered" to "invaded"?

It should not and as Gooreng Gooreng elder Richard Johnson says, it is time for Australians to be honest with each other and acknowledge the truth that Australia was indeed invaded.

"It's no good throwing stones at each other saying there was or wasn't a massacre or that we weren't building hospitals, sewers and roads," Mr Johnson said.

"We need to come to some place where we can come together and say: 'Look this has occurred and acknowledge it, otherwise we'll still be talking about it for another 200 years."

Although the debate about whether Cook discovered or invaded Australia is usually pigeon holed for news bulletins on Australia Day, last week the University of New South Wales introduced guidelines that say it is offensive to suggest Captain Cook discovered Australia.

Mr Johnson said he was not necessarily hung up on what terminology was used, however he did say the truth of Cook's arrival needed to be addressed.

"Captain Cook reported Australia was empty land with no human beings, and we need to address that and establish the truth," Mr Johnson said.

"We need to look at it in the clear light of day and say it was wrong and then ask how do we move on.

"Honesty doesn't hurt…and sometimes if your mate is an idiot, you've got to tell them," he said.

WHEN Gurang elder Kerry Blackman was at school fifty years ago he was taught that "Captain Cook was wonderful".

But, he insists, when the ships left England they had one thing on their mind - war.

"What we have is this land was taken by theft and murder…if Australia was settled then we would have had a treaty in place," Mr Blackman said.

"We don't have a treaty and that shows how racist Australia is."

Mr Blackman said if Australia is going to "grow up into a mature country", as a nation we have got to teach the true history of Australia.

"White Australia has a black history," he said.

"We need to have true reconciliation so we can live, walk and talk together.

"But those ships that left England were war ships and if you see the Encounter Exhibition at the National University they have a shield down there that has a bullet hole in it," he said.



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