In response to Afoa’s piece on Australia Day

Dear Editor,

Afoa, you’re at it again, letting self-serving personal opinion, speculation and tenuous links stand in the way of fact. You did it with the cyclone a few years ago and various other articles you have written and now you’re an expert on Australian history. Hmmmm  - same old, same old.

La Perouse was not on an invasion (settlement of Australia) mission, but a scientific “Cook’s Tour” shall we say, that the real Lieutenant Cook had undertaken eight years previous, having claimed the east coast of the big brown rock (Australia – east coast) for Great Britain, from Possession Island in the Torres Strait (proclaimed retrospectively in Batavia actually, a short time afterwards).

So even if La Perouse was going to claim it for France he wasn’t 6 days late, but eight years. In fact he had no orders from King Louis XVI to claim Terra Australis for France.

As for Phillip, he was of course establishing said settlement, based on Cook’s proclamation 8 years previously, not exploring scientifically as La Perouse was.

If La Perouse (good fellow and great admirer of Cook, I might add) was going to simultaneously claim and settle Australia for France, he would have needed a few more bods, supplies, a few more years - perhaps 2 to 8, and at least one more voyage. Two ships and company were not going to do it!

A good point is (as you said) that La Perouse was actually treated well when he was in Botany Bay. Poms knowing full well he was no threat, and just a visitor.

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But if La Perouse hadn’t had problems in the Navigator Islands (Samoa), followed by an excursion to Tonga and landed at Botany Bay before Philip and said, “Oh you’re too late monsieur, I have claimed this land for France.” There would more than likely have been hostilities, as Phillip would have given La Perouse his marching (ah, sailing) orders.  Two French ships would have been no match for eleven British, especially with the armaments and marines they had with them.

If La Perouse was not lost around the Solomons and had actually completed his mission, one would think the Poms might have had something to say about the French turning up some time later with the family, and not forgetting the baguette - invented (some say) in the early 19th century – about the time the French would have been ready to invade Australia. My speculation here - the Poms would have blown them out of the water – as usual. Britannia rules the …….

I’ll leave pulling apart the rest of your drivel, as there is far too much “clap trap” in it and it’s all there for the intelligent reader to discover and get a laugh from.

You have obviously researched some good well known facts online though and copied them out, I’ll give you that (good boy). Well done son, but as usual the Afoa Seti Afoa (now better known as ASA) factor of inventive hype and very humorous (as in inaccuracy) value indeed, is there for all to see.

I fully realise Mr. Editor that we are all entitled to our opinion, but next year to save embarrassment,  you might like to employ the services of an Australian perhaps, or English or French person, an historian preferably, but certainly someone with some qualifications on the Oz subject and don’t subject us to Asa again. Actually an Australian elementary school student would perform the task admirably I’m sure.

I’ll write you some satire for a few laughs if you so wish, rather than embarrassing, inaccurate personal opinions based on subjects that I know nothing about – subjects beyond ASA’s comprehension!

Perhaps next year the Australian High Commissioner’s sentiments would be more appropriate and certainly more accurate to grace your fine newspaper, and ASA can settle back and read some truths instead of hype, and not mouth off with his twaddle; but perhaps wish us people across the puddle a happy Australia day in your letters to the editor. That may be more appropriate for ASA. I already look forward to next year’s column on Australiana.

Rewriting history can be a silly and speculative thing. And ASA’s theory is no better. As much as I love Samoa, that pretty little nation had no hand in making Australia what it is today. And as much as I like French people and of course their cuisine, it was never ever going to be French!

 

Larry Murphy

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