ActivePaper Archive Call to wipe slave trader off map - The Age, 6/19/2020

Call to wipe slave trader off map


An increasing clamour of calls to wipe slave trader Ben Boyd off the map has come after NSW environment minister Matt Kean said he would investigate replacing the controversial name.

Boyd in the 1860s was responsible for ‘blackbirding’, a slave trade practice which involved tens of thousands of Pacific Islanders being forcibly brought to Australia to work on plantations in Queensland.

His memory is commemorated in southern NSW around Eden on the border with Victoria, with Ben Boyd National Park, Boydtown – a village with a population of 70, Boyd Tower and Ben Boyd Drive.

BJ Cruse, chair of the Eden Local Aboriginal Land Council, said national parks were partly to protect Aboriginal cultural heritage. ‘‘It is a bit of a slap in the face to have it named after someone who wanted to have Aboriginal slaves,’’ he said. ‘‘You immediately think if something is named after somebody that person warrants some some sort of honour because of the way they have conducted themselves.

‘‘They could have named it after any race of person. I think government should set the mood by doing the right thing and changing the names.’’

Nathan Moran, chief executive of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council in Redfern said Boyd was one of Australia’s first slave traders. ‘‘It’s called blackbirding but let’s call it what it is – slave trading,’’ he said. ‘‘Having the name Ben Boyd rubbed in your face, particularly for the South Coast mob ... must be very aggravating to know that name’s there.

‘‘It is at our forefront to be part of the healing which involves truth. People should be aware of Boyd’s true history, not the glorification and rewriting of history.’’

Bega Valley Shire mayor Sharon Tapscott said some mountains in the area had been given dual Indigenous and European names.

‘‘We are quite comfortable with dual names,’’ she said. Of Boyd she added: ‘‘He did come here as the first European settler, so I suppose you cannot erase that out of history. We need to acknowledge that this is the truth of what happened. If you don’t acknowledge the truth and the good or the bad of it you are destined to repeat it.’’

Christine Yeats, president of the Royal Australian History Society, said renaming the road would be a matter for the Geographical Names Board.

‘‘We have representation on the board and support the policy of appropriate renaming and dual naming,’’ she said. ‘‘The Ben Boyd National Park was gazetted in 1972 in the context of those times. These days we are far more aware of issues about his history which would render it not so appropriate that he be commemorated in that way.’’

NSW state environment minister Matt Kean said he would investigate replacing the controversial name.