Assimilation, Lutheranism and the 1950s Justice of Kriewaldt
Australian Journal of Legal History, Vol. 12, 2004
1 Pages Posted: 6 Sep 2010
Date Written: June 6, 2004
Justice Kriewaldt was the only judge of the Northern Territory Supreme Court from 1951 until his death in 1960. The judge’s work has been described as standing as ‘a bench-mark of fairness and justice in the administration of justice to Aboriginals’, yet he supported the assimilation policy of the 1950s. In hindsight it is possible to conclude that during his nine-year period on the bench Kriewaldt was concerned with how the application of the law could support the assimilation policy. His limited general writing, his judgements and the regular newspaper coverage of his decisions during the period give some indication of his understanding of the policy of assimilation and his view of the role of the law in the implementation of the policy. In spite of the continuing relevance of his judgements, to date there has been very little analysis of Kriewaldt’s understanding of assimilation. It is the way in which Kriewaldt interpreted the meaning of the policy of assimilation and how it should be supported through the application of the law that I propose to examine in this article.
After providing a brief discussion of the policy of assimilation as background, this paper will proceed in three parts. In the first part Kriewaldt’s belief that the policy of assimilation was concerned with the uplift of Aboriginal people is examined. Part two explores how Kriewaldt interpreted and applied the law in order to support the policy. Finally, part three discusses Kriewaldt’s understanding of the ultimate aim of the policy, that it would result in a ‘single Australian community’.
Keywords: assimilation policy, Northern Territory, Aboriginals
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