Flat White

Weekend viewing: How the enlightenment came to Australia

6 October 2019

11:21 AM

6 October 2019

11:21 AM

In nineteenth-century Australia, the early colonists had to decide what sort of institutions they were going to choose, if they going to be a protectionist or free trade set of colonies, if they were they going to focus on individual liberty or if they were to continue as a military outpost.


The research presented in this film shows the early colonists turned to classics of the Enlightenment to answer these questions. Rather than attempting to start from scratch, they consulted the great economists, philosophers and legal minds of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and applied the ideas contained within their works to building a new society.

We must never forget that the European settlement of Australia came at a time in the history of Western Civilisation when ideas about the role of government, individual liberty, religion and science had been debated, tried and tested. When the colonists were thinking about how to build their new society, they applied the ideas of Economic Freedom, the Rule of Law and Equal rights. Many of these ideas were contained within the books they brought with them.

Dr Bella d’Abrera is the Director, Foundations of Western Civilisation Program at the Institute of Public Affairs.

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