Prime Minister Tony Abbott may have ruffled some feathers with his comment that the arrival of the First Fleet was Australia’s “defining moment”.
But it is undeniable that European settlement shaped modern Australia, Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss says.
At an event on Friday to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the death of Governor Arthur Phillip – the first governor of NSW – Mr Abbott said his arrival with the First Fleet was “the defining moment in the history” of Australia, when it became part of the “modern world”.
The prime minister has come under fire for saying that although the settlement left the native Aboriginal people dispossessed and marginalised, it provided the foundation for Australia to become one of the “freest, fairest and most prosperous societies on the face of the earth”.
Mr Truss says it is beyond dispute that the First Fleet’s arrival was a significant part of our history.
“It’s a fact that European settlement changed our country in very dramatic ways and any possible writing of Australian history would have to acknowledge that fact,” he told reporters in Canberra on Saturday.
“We’re proud of all of our past.”