London's Attempts To Rectify Matters
After inquiry by the House of Commons Committee on Transportation, in 1785, Botany Bay was selected over other possible locations as the place to which convicts would be transported, now that the American colonies were no longer available for the purpose. Arthur Phillip was chosen to command the First Fleet and to serve as first Governor of the new colony.
His instructions, unlike those previously issued to Cook, had nothing to say about 'the consent of the natives', and nothing about the purchase of land for the purposes of the settlement. By contrast, Phillip was authorised to make grants of land, on the assumption that the land was the King's to grant.
During the first years of the new colony it became very apparent that the Aborigines did, indeed, live throughout the interior, and that they had very particular attachment to their territories. George Arthur, lieutenant-governor of Van Dieman's Land (now Tasmania) regretted the failure to negotiate a treaty for that colony as 'a fatal error'.
When later colonies were established, as in the case of South Australia, those who led the enterprise were required by London to deal with Aboriginal owners of land before opening it to non-Aboriginal settlement.
But such attempts to protect the rights of Indigenous Australians proved to be ineffectual, given the tradition established from the earlier settlements that no regard needed to be paid to any Aboriginal rights to their lands.
Keywords: Britain, colonialism, colonisation, conquest, convicts, Cook, Captain James, First Fleet, humanitarians, invasion, property, property law, settlements, Tasmania, terra nullius, United States of America, 1788-
Author: Nettheim, Garth