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Images of an Australian Enlightenment

The Story of Lachlan and Elizabeth Macquarie's Treatment of the Convicts

This is the story of two Scots, Lachlan Macquarie, governor of the British colony of New South Wales from 1810 to 1821, and of his wife, Elizabeth Macquarie, both of whom pioneered a policy of rehabilitation and renewal as part of their treatment of the convicts. The first part of the book canvasses what the Macquaries set out to achieve, and their stated reasons for this, as well as enquiring into the deeper personal forces at work within their lives. It introduces their supporters and opponents both in the Colony and in Britain. In the second part, the idea of enlightenment is introduced, its definition based on Churchills understanding of what it means for a society to be civilized. In this light, the punitive thinking of the Macquaries opponents both in Britain and the Colony represent darkness. In contrast, the Macquaries work is seen as an enlightenment, one having the potential to inform, indeed challenge, the darkness of the current punitive climate of public opinion so characteristic of much of the Western world today. Following this, comes an overview of a proposal for a very different approach to the treatment of crime and criminals. There are barriers to this - ones identified by studying what a number of the enlightened minds in Britain at the time of the Macquaries were saying. Yet, there are today pockets of enlightenment to be discerned. Accordingly, though the Macquarie governorship ended in personal tragedy for the two of them, there is the opportunity for a second Age of the Macquaries, one not just confined to a remote, tiny corner of this world.

Austin Lovegrove is currently Honorary Principal Fellow in the Law School at the University of Melbourne. Austin completed a M.A. and Ph.D. in Behavioural Sciences and went on to become a Reader in Criminology, also at the University of Melbourne. Each project involved the empirical study of different aspects of the behaviour of offenders. He served on the Victorian Committee of Inquiry into Sentencing; principally a judicial committee and chaired by the late Sir John Starke, it reported to the Government in 1988. As an academic, Austin has presented many papers at overseas and local conferences. More recently, he lectured on sentencing, decision making and guidelines at an annual conference of Australian Federal and Supreme Court Judges. Lovegrove is a Fellow of Goodenough College in London, a residential college for postgraduate students principally from the Commonwealth. The author has written two previous books; both are research monographs, aimed at academic audiences.

* Brings to the fore a largely unappreciated aspect of Macquarie’s governorship. That is, his treatment of the convicts as
different, as what brought him down then, and – this is important – what would bring him down now.
* Also addresses Mrs Macquarie’s involvement as the co-originator and co-implementer of the policies of the so-called ‘Age of
* Written as a personal and intimate account of two crusaders, their dreams of a better world and their personal tragedy.

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