Rethinking colonial endeavour in relation to agricultural settlement in the Northern Territory, 1863 to 1945
: a critical perspective

  • Ian Mackintosh Hillock

    Student thesis: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - CDU


    This work is a study, in historical context, of successive 'colonial' administrations' failure to effect permanent agricultural settlement in the Northern Territory. It seeks to provide greater understanding of why colonial settlement was less successful in the Territory than in the rest of Australia. Conceptualization places this study within a wider framework of studies of colonial economic development and especially that sponsored by government intervention.

    Under protracted colonial administration, attitudes to race, the background of world and colonial economics and the changing pattern of immigration all played a part in the Territory's formative evolution. This study explores some specific aspects within their particular political context of change. It traces the failure of policies, first envisaged by the South Australian Government in 1863 to establish agricultural settlement, and examines how succeeding Commonwealth administrations continued in that pursuit with little more success. This study covers the period from 1863 when South Australia first annexed the Territory, its later handover of administration and management to the Commonwealth Government and extends to the years immediately following World War 11. The role that past government policy has played in creating the confusing ambience still surrounding the question of agricultural development, past and present is examined.

    Despite the fact that the Territory's agricultural and economic development throughout its 'colonial' history was due almost entirely to government intervention and initiative, I contend that, by not engaging with available agricultural knowledge, agricultural settlement was in effect forestalled. Because local autonomy was never encouraged, selfevident political and inherent socioeconomic needs were ignored, and efforts to establish settlement were unable to benefit from the globalized nature of available agricultural knowledge or to profit from local learned experience. Farming, the very premise upon which colonial settlement was based was continuously circumscribed and prevented from constructing, transmitting and using local experience and agricultural knowledge to achieve socioeconomic sustainability.
    Date of AwardMar 2005
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorJim Cameron (Supervisor) & Suzanne Parry (Supervisor)

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