I have been debating with myself the wisdom of making this Blog Post because it’s about how, behind the scenes, the Kelly legends are quietly and effectively being dismantled. Ive wondered if it would be better not to alert the Kelly mobsters to whats going on under their very noses, because this might sting them into mounting some sort of a counter attack, and slow down the ongoing replacement of the lies and mythology about the Outbreak that they still cling to, with verifiable historical truths.
But in the end I decided to go ahead with this post, for a number of reasons, one of which is that I am hoping it will encourage more people to do what I and others are doing, when we see garbage about the Kelly story that needs to be corrected. This isn’t a campaign to replace one version of the Kelly story with a different one, but a campaign about replacing lies and false claims with verifiably historically accurate information.
So, for example if you see a claim somewhere that Fitzpatrick was a womaniser who raped Kate Kelly, you can register your objection and supply the relevant facts and ask that the myths be removed so that the public can be honestly and accurately informed. If you read somewhere that there was a gunfight at Stringybark Creek that the police lost, you can supply the facts, which are that only Kennedy ever got to actually fire his revolver, and the other two were killed within seconds of being ordered to Bail Up, and well before they had a chance to aim let alone fire their weapons. If you read that McIntyre committed perjury, one of Ian Jones favourite lies, you can point out that Ian Jones was wrong, his claim is based on a discrepancy between McIntyres version and a version invented by Sadleir over thirty years after the fact. Pushing back against the many lies and myths that are still being promoted by Kelly sympathisers is worth doing, if you think that Outbreak history-telling should be about the truth, rather than about the perpetuation of lies and fantasies, and the vilification of Ned Kellys police and other victims.
Another argument that prompted me to go ahead with this post was the realisation that if Kelly mobsters decide to mount a counter-offensive, and try to stop the removal of lies and myths about the Outbreak from public places like Museums and History Websites, they are almost certainly going to fail. Thats not just because the facts and the evidence are against them, but because as can be seen on their Facebook pages, they are incoherent, they are confused and irrational when it comes to defending what they believe, and any sane, rational Museum Administrator or Website creator will see it straight away. Take for example the recent attempts by Mick Fitzsimons to rubbish Ian MacFarlanes ground- breaking work ‘the kelly gang unmasked’ on Book review sites. All he does is lampoon the author and any other person who supports the book, and as we already know from his idiotic FB page aimed at rubbishing the book, he is incapable of making a rational argument. The same can be said of most of all the other people who defend the kelly myths – the facts are against them, their own abilities are against them and at learned Institutions people like that get nowhere. On the other hand, arguments that are evidence-based and rational are likely to be effective.
The other argument for making this post was that it would give me an opportunity to respond to the scepticism thats been posted to Facebook about whats already been achieved. There were many expressions of disbelief about what happened – two are shown above – but I am not deluded or being humoured by the National Museum : they took my complaint seriously and acted on it, but it wasnt as straightforward as that might sound.
I first wrote to them in July 2021. This was their response, after I wrote again a month later:
Thank you for your feedback and comments regarding the film Episode 11: ‘Australia’s first terrorist’, which is a part of the 12-part series ‘Australian Journey: the story of a nation in 12 objects’ made by Professor Bruce Scates and Dr. Susan Carland.
This was a part of a series produced by Monash University and the Australian National University, with assistance from the Museum as the objects explored are from the Museum’s collections. The foot of these films does include the following statement: ‘The views expressed in this series are those of the authors and interviewees and do not necessarily reflect the view of their host institutions or the National Museum of Australia.’
One of the Museum’s roles is to collaborate with subject experts on a wide range of topics, and we frequently reach out to others to assist us in producing the best content possible. We do welcome comment and critique on all content and would like to thank you for raising your concerns with us.
This has given us the opportunity to reach out to experts on the Kelly gang and ask them to review the film with your comments in mind. Based on their findings we will review our position regarding the place of the film in the suite of content within the Australian Defining Moments Digital Classroom. We are unfortunately unable to commit to a timeline for review at this stage.
Three months later I finally had their decision: they knocked me back!
“We have consulted with historians involved in the making of this film and we agree with them that the film, together with the supplementary material on the webpage, including the interview with Professor Frank Bongiorno, is suitable content for the Digital Classroom.”
I wrote back and pointed out that by asking for the assesment of my complaint to be done by “the historians involved in the making of the film” they had violated their own Complaints procedure by not getting an independent arbiter to adjudicate my complaint. The conflict of interest was too obvious – and they agreed.
“The issues raised in your correspondence of 14 November 2021 have been reviewed internally and a decision has been made to remove the film while an external review is undertaken in relation to material inconsistencies and incorrect information contained in the film.”
Finally, 9 months later, I got this :
Thank you for your patience as the Museum has undertaken an external review of the video ‘Australia’s First Terrorist?’. As per the advice of the external reviewers and the internal review undertaken by the Museum staff, we have decided to remove the video permanently from our websites. We will not seek to re-make the video at this time.
We also wanted to let you know that the Museum’s curatorial team is currently undertaking a comprehensive external review of Ned Kelly content from across the Museum’s websites.
We appreciate you taking the time to provide a comprehensive analysis of the video. Your comments and insights will support the other review taking place.
Thank you for your continued support for the Museum.
Click below to read my letter: