Colo­nial jus­tice

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - TV -

HIS­TO­RIAN Michael Cath­cart presents Australia On Trial, a three-parter that recre­ates his­toric Australia colo­nial tri­als that still res­onate in the present day. Each case caused a sen­sa­tion and at­tracted enor­mous public in­ter­est. Each trig­gered un­prece­dented so­cial and po­lit­i­cal de­bate about sub­jects at the heart of Aus­tralian so­ci­ety: democ­racy, jus­tice and the iden­tity and be­hav­iour of Aus­tralian men and their at­ti­tudes to­wards women and indige­nous peo­ple.

The first episode re­vis­its the Mount Ren­nie rape trial of 1886. In Dar­linghurst Court­house, nine young ‘‘lar­rikins’’ stand ac­cused of se­ri­ally rap­ing and pos­si­bly tor­tur­ing or­phan Mary Jane Hicks, 16. Hicks, a stranger to Syd­ney, was look­ing for work when a cab driver stopped and of­fered to take her to the reg­istry of­fice. In­stead, the driver took her to Wa­ter­loo and tried to as­sault her. She screamed and the young men – she be­lieved them to be res­cuers – led her to nearby bush­land on Mount Ren­nie (now Moore Park) and raped her.

Presided over by Jus­tice Windeyer, the trial at­tracts un­prece­dented press cov­er­age. Is Hicks a strum­pet or an in­no­cent girl; are youths sav­ages or vir­ile Aus­tralian-born men?

Thurs­day, 8.30pm, ABC1.

Mem­bers of a gang called Wa­ter­loo Push stand ac­cused of the rape of Mary Jane Hicks.

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