Queensland Native Police The First Twenty Years

The Queensland Native Police force were a uniquely, local law enforcement agency on the frontier of Queensland’s white settler expansion. There was probably as much support for the force as there was against it. To some it stood as a force for the eradication of Aborigines from the landscape of Queensland. While to others, it was a force for good in that it protected the white settlers, who pioneered the settlement and opening-up of the Queensland wilderness to trade and occupation. The Native Police pointed their guns at armed myall blacks in order to get them to drop their weapons and to stop killing livestock and white men.

The Native Police seem to have eluded any sensible critique of its role because of the inability of commentators to put aside their own prejudices in attempting to define exactly what were the purpose, procedure and results of the Native Police.

Many commentators have raged over the organisation that at any one time, really only managed to put on the law enforcement line an operational force of about 150 mounted troopers armed with a single shot breech-loading rifle. Given the size of its jurisdiction and its limited resources, you could be forgiven for thinking they were the most unlikely bunch of sepoys ever to sit a horse. To add to the farce, it was said of their target, the myall blacks, that their wandering from place to place in unknown and, therefore, inaccessible scrubs, was so great that it rendered all attempts to surprise them ineffectual. However, the native trooper was the dead equal of any myall black. Therein lay their usefulness, their utility, for wherever a myall could go, so could a trooper just as surely.

It is often said a Mountie “always gets his man”. For the Queensland Native Police, their call was, “People who break laws in this land, whether they be whites, blacks or browns, will not escape punishment.”

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