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And the 2023 voice award goes to...the Scots!

By Stuart Ballantyne - posted Thursday, 10 August 2023

For sure, if there was an award for the nation who contributed the most to Australia, it would definitely go to the Scots! For us to play a key part in the future decision making of this nation, yes, again it would go to the Scots, based on their proven track record.

The Scots infiltration of the globe started in the early 1800's with Thomas Cochrane, a cavalier Scottish Naval Officer who performed brilliantly against the French and Spanish navies, becoming the source of C S Forester's Horatio Hornblower and the movie, Master and Commander. The aristocratic heads of the Royal Navy did not view the outspoken Scot well, so he pursued his military talents in Peru and Chile, freeing them from Spanish rule and then freeing Brazil from Portuguese rule.

We Scots sent Christian missionaries to many parts of the world a couple of centuries ago. Admittedly, some south seas nations such as PNG found us more "delicious" rather than educational.


David Livingstone for instance, in the 1800's for 30 years added immense value to Africa as a missionary, a medical doctor and an explorer. You should study his maps on the wall at the Livingstone Hotel beside the Victoria Waterfall on the Zambezi River. These maps show his meandering exploration of Africa, with many sites marked "untrustworthy natives here".

The Scots Presbyterian Church in the 1800's sent hundreds of families to establish the South Island of New Zealand, centred in "Dunedin", which is Gaelic for Edinburgh.

Wander through the Otago museum in Dunedin and you will see photos of the small grass huts of the few local Maori left remaining from being ravaged by disease and musket wars, who were braving the cold when the Scots arrived in 1848. Unkind commentators would say that it was only the Scots that were stupid enough to go and develop a cold, windy place where no-one else wanted to live, but within a few years there were proper buildings, houses, schools, stores and churches with windows and roofs. All kids including the locals went to school and were educated in a values-based, Christian teaching, including that of respect.

At the same time in Australia, Churches of all denominations were expanding in all States. Closely examine the historical records of these missions which identified protection of aboriginal communities as one key function. Not just from angry white settlers with rifles, but also from themselves, as tribal quarrels were rife, yes and still are.

A reminder, "The Church is the only Society that exists for the benefit of non-members"

The ships used in the settlement of Australia, New Zealand and the South West pacific were mostly built in Scotland. The famous clipper "Cutty Sark" held the record for fast ocean transits, carrying wool from the emerging nation of Australia back to the UK.


Meanwhile, back in Scotland where the population still is and was at the time, 10% of their English neighbours, the Scots were boxing above their weight inventing the steam engine, the inflatable tyre and tar sealed roads.

Also in the latter 1800's Thomas Blake Glover, a Scotsman in Japan, was instrumental in establishing the giant Mitsubishi Engineering company, as well as Japan Railways and Kirin Beer. This Scottish Samurai had the greatest effect on modern industrialised Japan. The Last Samurai movie was about the events at that time and place. His home, now called the Glover Gardens, is close to his burial place at Sakamoto Cemetery in Nagasaki.

At the same time, author Robert Louis Stevenson, was out in Samoa writing classics such as Treasure Island and Kidnapped and his body still lies on Mt Vaea overlooking Vailima.

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About the Author

Stuart Ballantyne is just a sailor who runs Seat Transport Solutions who are naval architects, consultants, surveyors and project managers.

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