Survival Day 2020 marks 250 years since Captain James Cook sailed the east coast of Australia and wrongly declared it “terra nullius” ― a finders keepers colonial term translated from Latin to “uninhabited land”.
The anniversary has spurred the Morrison Government to spend more than $60 million of taxpayer money marking the colonisation of Australia with a series of events.
The prime minister announced last year he would use a chunk of the money to send a replica of Cook’s HMS Endeavour (known as HMB Endeavour) to circumnavigate the country and host activities at each of its proposed 39 stops.
The plan is something Scott Morrison says will “help Australians better understand Captain Cook’s historic voyage” and “rediscover” the explorer because he “gets a bit of a bad show.”
However, the circumnavigation does not align with what actually happened.
“The Endeavour never circumnavigated Australia,” professor Marcia Langton told HuffPost Australia.
“It was Matthew Flinders that circumnavigated Australia from 1802 to 1803.”
At the time of the 2019 announcement, former Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten accused Morrison of having a “bizarre Captain Cook fetish”.
Langton points out that Cook didn’t discover Australia, although he claimed the east coast of Australia for Britain.
“If you read his journals, he’s not in fact a very significant figure in Australian history,” she said.
“Australia was created by the Westminster Parliament with legislation that came into effect on January 1, 1901.
“None of them (the government) know their history; they’re...