FHS members are invited to the launch of of Wal Walker’s book, The Squatters’ Grab, introduced by Greg McNamara.

Venue: Readings State Library of Victoria, Russell St Melbourne
Date and time: Wednesday 20th February 2024, 6.30pm

The Squatters’ Grab

Wal Walker

The Squatters’ Grab traces the failure of various governments and colonial administrators to discharge their obligations to Indigenous Australians; failures that gave rise to the ascendancy of the squatters
and dispossession of the Aboriginal people.

Colonial governors appointed by the British government were under an obligation to the Crown to protect the lives of the First Australians, yet the result was massacres and dispossession.

In his 1968 Boyer Lecture, Bill Stanner described the great Australian 
silence around the history of our relations with the traditional owners; a cult of forgetfulness practised on a national scale.

The Squatters’ Grab bridges this gap, examining laws enacted in London by King, Queen, Parliament and Secretaries of State for the 
Colonies, relating to Indigenous Australians. It details how the law failed Aboriginal Australians so drastically and for so long; failing to acknowledge they had rights in their own country, denying them access to their land and to sources of food and water; denying them the right to appear in Court, to defend themselves or to bring a charge; 
treating them as enemy aliens, not as citizens entitled to the rule of law.

The Squatters’ Grab records the experience and voices of explorers, settlers and Aboriginals as the frontiers of settlement
pushed rapidly out from Sydney, west then northward across the country. We meet those who recognised, respected and
supported Indigenous people, as well as the perpetrators of violence. Wal Walker considers whether settlement could have
progressed cooperatively, without the extensive loss of Indigenous lives.

The Squatters’ Grab examines the British experiment in Queensland, the establishment of a new colony with a small white population, with inadequate finance, little expertise and accelerating violence, given its own Parliament at separation. How its foundation document, an Order in Council signed by Queen Victoria, was disobeyed, overwhelmed from the first by squatters interests, in collusion with the Governor and his Premier.

The Squatters’ Grab considers how the Queensland Native Police Force, given relatively unfettered powers to “disperse” Indigenous Australians, entrenched a culture of mutual fear, mistrust and dispossession. We are told the Queensland Native Police protected the squatters, not how they were placed at their disposal to disperse and massacre Indigenous people; ensuring the squatters could take over Aboriginal country without being held responsible for violence and murder.

The Squatters’ Grab deals honestly with our past. It is a book for the majority of Australians 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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