National Features and Documentary Series

Crown Rules

Lachlan Wyllie, 28th September 2017
Produced by Graeme Taylor (Mountain District Radio, Emerald)
Mentored by Maddy MacFarlane (PBS Radio, Melbourne)

Take a journey into the historical situation that led to Britain's colonisation of the lands now known as Australia – and how British instruction has shaped the culture of Australia ever since.

Featuring historical re-enactments and an original score, with Crown Rules Graeme Taylor aims for a better understanding of Australian history.

I was first alerted to the injustices imposed on the “Aborigines” when I heard Pastor Doug Nicholls speak one evening at a local church.

I was about 7 or 8 years old at the time, but it has stuck with me ever since. It doesn't make sense, still to this day. Crown Rules is an effort to unpack this.

In my twenties, living in Fitzroy, I became friends with some of the local Aboriginal Population. Sad to say, some of whom died much too young, so in some way, this is a remembrance of those lives cut short. Just last year, a First Nations’ Man said, “We’re only 3% of the population, and we’re expected to educate the other 97%”.

So true, I thought, so I’ve run with this, as a way for me, a whitefella, to contribute to “the Struggle” by critiquing the Settler Society I was born into.

The Socio/Political situation in the UK in the 1780s has not been widely discussed, even though it was the mitigating factor in what became the establishment of prison colonies in "New South Wales", and the presumption of Crown Ownership over the lands now known as Australia. Easier to blame Captain Cook I suppose.

I have recently watched on the ABC, the British series "Poldark", which is set in a similar time frame, and even though transportation and colonies are never mentioned, it does offer an insight into the Social and Political Conditions in the UK at the time. I’m not an academic. I’ve tried to create a Radio Documentary that is both entertaining and a tad confrontational. There’s a lot of information to digest, so I hope it doesn't cause too much tummy ache.

Time Line of events leading up to the 1788 Prison Colony in New South Wales
Instructions to Governor Phillip

Unfound Document - it reads ''Unfound' Document - WANTED - The search for Australia's founding documents continues, as eight of the key legal instruments identified for inclusion in this website have not yet been located.

Oops, what's this?










No copies of actual document, but here's a copy of the Draft Instructions. It's as if they've got something to hide. 

‘Chart of the Southern Hemisphere’, drawn by Captain James Cook in 1777

James Cook's 1777 chart of the Southern Hemisphere

Seven years after mapping the east coast of New Holland, and two years before he was killed in the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii). Note his description of the Continent now known as Australia as being 'New Holland'.

Map by Matthew Flinders from 1804

Persistent Myths

1) That Aboriginal People had no sense of land ownership. Strange then that they threw spears at Cook's crew in 1770, and needed permissions to travel through the Estates of other Clans. How convenient a thought it is though, for those who forcibly dispossessed them of their lands, to say they had no sense of land ownership. It was implicit in Instructions to Governor Phillip that Aboriginal People had no sense of land ownership, and it suited those arriving to think that. Still today, it is also a meme of the New Age folk, who say "no-one really owns the land" which offers a free pass to the British Crown owning it all.

2) That Aboriginal Peoples were isolated from the rest of the world, yet the then new Federal Government legislated in 1907, to ban trade with the Macassans, who on sold to VoC (The Dutch East India Company) as well as trading with the Chinese. Such trade had been going on long before Cook sailed by.  Isolated from the rest of the world was a convenience for arrivals to imagine that the British were ‘saving Aboriginal People from themselves’. The idea of international trade also did not fit with the “discovered by Captain Cook” myth.

3) That there was no slavery in Australia. Just look up 'Blackbirding' (here and here) and 'Stolen Wages'

4) That Captain Cook discovered Australia. See the Chart he drew in 1777, drawn after his Second Voyage after he'd circumnavigated "Antarctica" and his "showing the Tracks of some of the most distinguished Navigators".

5) That Australia was peacefully settled. 

6) That Britain bought democracy and the Westminster System with it when it colonised ‘Australia’. In 1823, the Great Reform Act was legislated in the UK, so that one in seven adult males could vote. An improvement from less than one in ten adult males being able to vote, having to be a land owner to be able to vote for the House of Commons. The House of Lords was strictly hereditary. Britain could not bring democracy since it was inherently undemocratic itself. Indeed, there were no elected Parliaments here in the colonies for the first 50 years, and and even then, it was initially only land holding men who could vote.

These "Landholders" became the colonial politicians. For all adult men, and then on Federation for all men and women, white people here did get universal voting before the UK, but not so for Aboriginal People.

Queen Elizabeth II signs her Assent to the Australia Act on 2 March 1986 at Government House

7) That Australia is a democracy, yet, no matter who gets elected, they must pledge allegiance to the British Monarch, aka, the Queen of Australia, before they can sit in Parliament. The Governments in Australia are Her Majesty's Governments and the Head of State in an hereditary position, unto whom all elected politicians must pledge allegiance, March 1986, Queen Elizabeth gives “Royal Assent” to the Australia Acts.

8) That Australia became an independent nation in 1901, or 1919, or 1986, or is that ..... sometime soon?

Section 59 Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia. As to the secrecy provisions made by members of the Executive Council, each member must pledge:

Executive Councillor’s Oath

I, [NAME], being chosen and summoned by the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia to be a member of the Federal Executive Council, do swear that I will, when required, advise the Governor-General (or the person for the time being administering the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia) to the best of my judgment, and consistently with the good government of the Commonwealth of Australia, and that I will not disclose the confidential deliberations of the Council. So help me God!;query=Id%3A%22chamber%2Fhansardr%2F2005-08-16%2F0165%22

  • 'London' music composed and performed by Allan Pan

Voices in order of appearance:

  • Phil Ruck - Opening Credits
  • Victoria Bonte - Narrator
  • Graeme Taylor - Narrator
  • John Shiels - PM William Pitt the Younger
  • Graham Beal - Representative from the Palace
  • David Greenaway - Lord Mayor of the City of London
  • Special guest voices after arriving in the colonies - Jug Kennedy and Hilary B.
  • A very special thanks to Ellie Gilbert and Ghillar who participated from Lightning Ridge (I hope the snippets that I've included here stayed true to the intent. Much respect to you both, and thank you for the interview).

Mentored by Maddy MacFarlane (PBS, Melbourne).

Also, the help and support of the 3MDR crew (97.1), Phil and Ren. Even a cold office doesn’t dampen your enthusiasm.

The guidance the technical input from Giordy, Martin and Andrew at CRN and CMTO has been much appreciated.

As a novice to Radio, Production and everything else, I feel blessed to have been so supported and prompted on this journey of discovery.

I hope the end product is worthy of all the time spent by my mentors, and the lessons in the tech aspects of Community Radio and Feature Making that so many willingly offered.

This piece was made for the CBAA's National Features & Documentary Series 2017, a showcase of work by new and emerging Australian community radio producers, with training and mentoring provided by the Community and Media Training Organisation. The opinions expressed in National Features & Documentary Series content are those of the individual producers or their interviewees, and not necessarily shared by the CBAA or CMTO.

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