Representation and the Australian Aborigines


    To those whose vocation it is to consider the Australian aboriginal mainly, if not exclusively, in a context in which he appears as the most primitive, physically and culturally, among existing peoples, there is something incongruous in the report from Canberra (The Times, Oct. 27) that the aborigines have petitioned the King, asking His Majesty, through the Australian Government, to empower them to propose one of their own people, or a sympathetic white, to represent them in the Federal Parliament. The purpose of the petition, it is stated, is to prevent their extinction. It goes on to point out that the injunction laid on the first settlers in Australia, that the aborigines should be adequately cared for, has not been obeyed, since aborigines' lands have been expropriated and legal status has been denied them. This is the first occasion in Australian history on which such action has been taken by the aborigines; but as the eighteen hundred and fourteen signatories to the petition, drawn from all parts of Australia, are chiefly from mission stations, the circumstances which have determined their mode of action are not beyond conjecture. The petition has been forwarded by Mr. Lyons, as Prime Minister, to Lord Gowrie. the Governor-General, for submission to the King.

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    Representation and the Australian Aborigines. Nature 140, 798 (1937).

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