Prime Minister Morrison apologizes for saying there's 'no slavery' in Australian history
Canberra - Prime Minister Scott Morrison has apologized after
being criticized for claiming "there was no slavery" in Australia.
"My comments were not intended to give offence and if they did I
deeply regret that and apologise for that," Morrison said Friday in a
In recent days, some monuments, due to their role in the history of
the slave trade, have been pulled down in some countries as part of
the growing global Black Lives Matter movement.
Morrison broached the topic when he was asked about the possible
removal of statues in Britain of explorers such as Captain James
Cook, who claimed Australia for the British regime in 1770.
"It was a pretty brutal place. But, there was no slavery in
Australia," Morrison told Sydney's 2GB radio on Thursday.
But his critics pointed out there was slave trade in Australia,
including South Pacific Islanders kidnapped and forced into labouring
as indentured workers in sugar cane fields in Australia between the
mid-1800s and early 1900s, when more than 62,500 people were
Also, Aboriginal Australians were captured and forced to work without
any wages for many decades.
"It's pretty obvious that when you chain people up by the neck and
force them to march 300 kilometres and then work on cattle stations
for non-indigenous barons, then that is slavery," indigenous
historian Bruce Pascoe told Australia radio ABC on Friday morning.
Morrison said it is not helpful "to go into an endless history war
discussion about this."
"I acknowledge there have been all sorts of hideous practices that
have taken place. I'm not denying any of that," he said Friday.
In recent weeks, Australians have joined global Black Lives Matter
movement protest, with rallies organized in all major cities against
Aboriginal incarceration rates and deaths in custody.
Morrison described the incarceration rates as heartbreaking.
"The challenges of indigenous incarceration go across so many
different areas of public policy," Morrison said Friday.
It is "an incredibly complicated area," he said, adding there is a
commitment to act and there is no shortage of funding.
According to government figures, Indigenous Australians make up about
30 per cent of the prison population, even though they are just 3 per
cent of the country's total population.
About 20 per cent of people who have died in custody were Indigenous
More Black Lives Matter protests are planned on Friday and Saturday,
despite severe warnings from police and politicians.
Morrison "strongly urged" people not to participate in protests due
to Covid-19 pandemic restrictions. He also said protesters should be
charged if they break social distancing rules.
Rallies for asylum seekers and refugees have also been planned for
Saturday in Melbourne and Sydney.
Meanwhile, three organisers of last week's Black Lives Matter protest
in Melbourne were fined 1,652 dollars (1,130 US dollars) each on
Friday for breaching coronavirus restrictions.
More than 20 000 people had participated in the protest, which was
spearheaded by the Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance.