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The Botany Bay Debate Evaluate the differing explanations of historians for the British governments decision to establish a colony in New South Wales History is based on historians interpretations of sources that remain from that time First hand testimony and records that give direct access to the past are referred to as primary sources These sources have not continued to exist by chance The reason they have survived is that someone deemed them worthy of preservation However there are some that survive by accident These sources restrict and shape an historians interpretation however different historians still have conflicting ideas about certain events in history These differences in opinion are the result of the fragmentary and selective nature of the sources available People have a great deal of scope to interpret sources differently History cannot speak for itself historians speak for it Therefore historians put forward their own interpretation of history as they understand it from the documents available One event in Australian history that is of particular interest to historians is the decision made by the British government in seventeen eighty-eight to establish a colony in New South Wales NSW which was the name for the eastern half of the Australian continent The range of primary sources relating to this event is very limited and fragmentary but historians rely on these to draw their conclusions from The answers to the questions raised are not explicit in these documents so there is a certain amount of interpretation and imagination needed in order to find them This is where different histories emerge From the nineteen fifties Australian historians have been engaged in a debate called the Botany Bay Debate The debate involves the differing interpretations of the colonisation of Australia by the British government in seventeen eighty-eight Historians agree that the British government decided to colonise NSW in seventeen eighty-eight however they disagree about why this transpired There are three main interpretations of the
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