Morrison has promised to spend more than $12 million on projects marking the 250th anniversary of Captain Cook’s first voyage to Australia and the Pacific.
“The thing about Cook is I think we need to rediscover him a bit because he gets a bit of a bad show from some of those who like to sort of talk down our history,” he told Cairns radio station 4CA on Tuesday.
“It’s very trendy to talk down James Cook and all that sort of stuff, but this guy was an enlightened man for his generation and his time.”
A replica of the Endeavour will circumnavigate the country next year to mark the anniversary of Captain Cook’s maiden voyage. (Cook’s voyage did not circumnavigate the content, but rather charted the east coast).
Projects for the Cooktown 2020 Festival will receive $5.45 million to develop and upgrade sites, but also to celebrate local indigenous culture as the region becomes the focal point of the anniversary.
“That’ll be great for tourism and it will also be a great opportunity just to talk about our history – the view from the shore, the view from the ship – and very much understanding those two stories,” Morrison said.
“We’ve got great stories – some of them are hard, some of them are magnificent – but we’ve got to tell them all.”
The Australian National Maritime Museum gets $6.7 million to sail the Endeavour replica from Sydney in March 2020, heading south to Hobart before turning north and sailing around the country’s coastline.
It will call in at some ports and sail by specific locations, with 39 stops proposed where it will host a series of events and activities.
The prime minister said above all else, Captain Cook was a scientist, who was fascinated in his engagement with indigenous people.
“Being able to tell the stories of how he was seeking to find understanding I think is very important,” he said.
“I mean it was a long time ago, 250 years ago, and those people who want to judge people for what they did 250 years ago, I think that’s a bit harsh … You need to try and look at him in the context of his time.”
– with AAP
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