Keith Windschuttle unconvinced on Aboriginal massacre
Controversial historian and publisher Keith Windschuttle has dismissed as a myth claims of an Aboriginal massacre at a Victorian site called Convincing Ground. Mr Windschuttle, whose criticisms of the "black armband" view of Australia's past sparked the "history wars" in 2002, describes the Aboriginal heritage claim on Convincing Ground as doubtful. The Convincing Ground dispute began on January 17 when local Koori Culture heritage officer Denise Lovett stopped earthworks at the site 7km east of Portland on Victoria's west coast.
The local Glenelg Shire Council and three freehold property owners are now fighting a legal battle for the right to proceed with residential subdivision and commercial development.
They have been taken to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal by the Victorian Department of Planning and local Aborigines, who claim oral history and colonial records indicate Convincing Ground was the site where whalers massacred the Kilcarer Gundidj clan in a dispute over a beached whale in 1834.
But Mr Windschuttle has joined fellow conservative historian Michael Connor in labelling Convincing Ground as another Hindmarsh Island affair.
The Hindmarsh Island affair was a dispute about Aboriginal secret women's business which halted the construction of a $6million South Australian bridge project.
"In the Convincing Ground case, we are obviously dealing with myth-making," Mr Windschuttle said. "It is very dubious."
One of those he singles out for criticism is Ian Clark, of the University of Ballarat, whose book Scars On The Landscape includes Convincing Ground among the 19th century battlegrounds where Aborigines fought with settlers in western Victoria.
"Ian Clark's claim is one of the most dubious I have heard about," Mr Windschuttle said.
But Dr Clark argued extreme political ideologies, including Mr Windschuttle's, had for decades skewed the truth about the relationship between early settlers and Aborigines.
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