Photo: Loren Elliott / Reuters
The Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison apologized for his words that in Australia “there was slavery”, after his comments sparked outrage and accusations that it ignores the history of forced labor in the country. His words are quoted CNN.
Speaking at a press conference in Canberra on Friday, 12 June, Morrison said that he was referring to the fact that the first Australian colony in New South Wales was established without extensive use of slave labor. “My comments were not intended to insult, and if they did, I deeply regret this and apologize for it,” — said the Prime Minister of Australia.
Morrison also acknowledged that Australia was “all sorts of disgusting practices,” “I was just trying to convey that we had problems in our history, we acknowledged them, I recognized them and we need them to decide,” he added.
The controversial phrase of the Prime Minister of Australia announced during a radio interview Thursday, June 11, discussing the protests and the Black Lives Matter movement in the U.S. and around the world, and calls to remove the statue of English Navigator James cook, whose arrival in Australia paved the way for the first European colony. “My parents and grandparents were on the First and Second fleets (prisoners, migrants). It was pretty cruel place, but in Australia was not slavery,” said Morrison.
Despite the fact that Australia has never been heavily dependent on slave labor, like the American South, slavery was practiced in the country for decades in the 19th and 20th centuries, in such places as the sugar plantations of Queensland. Also, there was a practice of “recruitment” (“blackbirding”), the process by which Pacific islanders were taken from their homes, sometimes forcibly, to work in harsh conditions for a small fee or no charge in Australia.
Morrison’s comments were made after thousands of people took to the streets of Australian cities over the weekend in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter protests in the United States and calling for better treatment of indigenous Australians.
In dozens of U.S. cities held mass protests accompanied by riots and clashes with police over the death of a black security guard George Floyd, who died after a hard arrest. In some States, they turned into riots, pogroms, looting, shooting and arson. The protesters are blaming the police and racist prejudices in society.
Video, photo All from Russia.