Arthur Phillip, Australia’s first statesman

Arthur Phillip, born on 11 October 1738, was the commander of the First Fleet and Australia’s first governor. As the leader of the infant colony of New South Wales, he showed that he was a man of duty and self-sacrifice in the way in which he administered Port Jackson, the first European settlement in Australia.

Governor Phillip was a man of military expertise, as he had served with the British navy and (with the permission of the British Admiralty) had fought in the Spanish-Portuguese war from 1774 to 1778 with great distinction, so much so that the King of Portugal gave him a personal reference to commend him.

He was also a man of compassion and caring for his fellow man, a quality exemplified by the care he took of the First Fleeters on their journey out, such as by ensuring they had a decent supply of fresh fruit and vegetables. This care and attention was not shown by many other captains of the time, which meant that the horrible disease of scurvy hit seafaring crews badly in many other ships; the stark contrast between the First Fleet and the Second and Third Fleets was phenomenal, with the other two fleets suffering high death rates from scurvy, malnutrition and lack of fresh air and exercise.

Phillip encouraged convicts who had served their time to settle the land and become good citizens; as well as genuinely seeking to develop good relations with the Aboriginal population, even to the extent of ordering no retaliatory action when he was speared by an Aboriginal. When supplies were running dangerously low, Phillip ordered that he was to receive the same rations as the convicts and soldiers, showing that he was a man of principle and honour who led by example.

Although the early years brought some harsh conditions, moving the Governor to institute some severe discipline and even capital punishment, the possibilities of the continent were obvious to those with vision. Thankfully, the colony was later able to move on from those harsh times. Governor Phillip saw the potential for Australia as a great new land in the southern seas and called for more free settlers to migrate, in order to develop the sparsely-populated land.

We owe much to Governor Phillip for laying the foundations of modern Australia. His work, and that of the pioneers and settlers who followed him, created the bedrock for our nation. Arthur Phillip was a selfless man who did his duty to the best of his ability to form a new civilization in Australia.

There are people of similar strength of character in modern Australia who are now needed to come forward to protect and promote the future of the Australian people. Become a part of Australia’s history; become a part of Australia’s future; join the Australian Protectionist Party.

References and further reading:
B.H. Fletcher. “Phillip, Arthur (1738–1814)”, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, accessed 9 October 2011
Louis Becke and Walter Jeffery. Admiral Phillip: The founding of New South Wales, New York, Longmans, Green & Co., 1899, pp.3-4
George Barrington. The history of New South Wales: including Botany Bay, Port Jackson, Pamaratta, Sydney, and all its dependancies, from the original discovery of the island, with the customs and manners of the natives, and an account of the English colony from its foundation to the present time, M. Jones, London, 1802 [The author George Barrington is credited on the title page as “superintendant of the convicts”], pp.55, 82, 84
Arthur Phillip”, Wikipedia
First Fleet”, Wikipedia
Second Fleet (Australia)”, Wikipedia
Third Fleet (Australia)”, Wikipedia
Convicts and Convict Ships Sent to Port Jackson NSW 1787-1800”, Convicts to Australia
Governor Arthur Phillip (1738 – 1814)”, Hawkesbury Historical Society


  1. Save Australia says

    Good on him for all the work he did in starting the first European settlement in Australia. It would not have been an easy task in a strange land without all of the benefits of civilisation.

Leave a Reply