Is the jury still out on McMillan?

John Buxton, Bundalaguah


I HAVE read articles about Wellington Shire Council’s resolution to remove the Angus McMillian memorials (Gippsland Times 9/6).

I wish to share my views, and I will start by asking some questions:

Do you believe in the principles that underline our free society?

Do you believe that an accused person should be innocent until proven guilty?

Do you believe that it is wrong to condemn a man unless the evidence is beyond reasonable doubt?

I hope you can answer yes to those questions.

The next question is, how do you solve today’s social disadvantage – by trying to remove or hide history?

Terrible things happened, no doubt about it, but the question we should be turning our minds to is how do we fix today’s problems, as opposed to trying to rewrite history?

Symbolism fixes nothing; only deeds and effort can overcome problems.

From what I have read it would appear to me that McMillian actually tried to help Aboriginal people.

In a book titled Through Foreign Eyes (1988), page 48, by Peter Gardner I found the following: “In September 1858, McMillan appeared as the defender of two Kurnai, Tarra Bobby and William Login, charged with the murder of a white man at Sale.

“Thomas wrote: … from there meet – McMillan Esqr J.P. from Gippsland who accompanied me to the Jail- The Blks … brought up I am informed was handcuffed & in that state on Board till Mr. McMillan insisted on them being taken off.”

It appears that McMillan accompanied the prisoners on board the ship from Port Albert to Melbourne.

On board also was another Kurnai, witness Jemmie Scott.

McMillan claimed the two charged men were innocent of the crime, and spent some time in Melbourne visiting them and appealing on their behalf before various political figures.

Then on page 49 of the same book:

“McMillan’s pre-eminence was attained early in 1860 just after his election to parliament. At this stage McMillan was an M.P., J.P., a local guardian of Aborigines, on the committee to select a mission station site and a member of the Legislative Assembly Select Committee for the Protection of Aborigines.”

What was your answer to the question about the evidence being beyond reasonable doubt?

Surely, we are better off to follow the example of good deeds being done, rather than to hide or remove history.