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Sir Joseph Banks & the secret agenda for the First Fleet

Banks

 

1. Joseph Banks wearing a cloak of New Zealand flax.

The industrial revolution had produced massive social upheaval in Britain, creating the new spectre of mass unemployment among the trraditional rural working population. This led to hunger-induced crime and political agitation.

The fledgling New South Wales colonial outpost was established primarily as an urgently needed dumping ground for the burgeoning population of petty criminals and political prisoners crowded into the derelict hulks of old warships along the River Thames.

The discovery of a native flax in New Zealand and Norfolk Island meant that the prospect of being able to supply hempen cordage and sail canvas using the new convict slave labour was much discussed during the time of the Pitt Government. The hope that the new colony would help strengthen Britain's naval power in the Far East by creating a new source of urgently needed rope, sailcloth and other naval commodities became a significant factor in the final decision to go ahead with the penal colony.

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