What a Capital Idea – Australia 1770-1901

What a Capital Idea – Australia 1770-1901

 Controversial, enlightening and exciting new book

What a Capital Idea – Australia 1770-1901 lifts the lid off the Australian story and exposes the myths. It is the most comprehensive and accurate record of Australian history ever published.

Author, Christopher Reynolds, explains: “What a Capital Idea is not just another history book that runs through the events of Australia’s history since settlement. I thoroughly investigate the reasons for political and commercial decisions – chasing down the money trail and looking for the context and people behind events like never before.”

Reynolds, uses his wide ranging knowledge to analyse original legislation, documents and personal accounts to reveal the political, social and economic forces that created and moulded Australia’s development. By exploring historical events from the perspectives of sociology, law, and political science, it is the breadth of perspective, the depth of consideration, and the focuses on economic development that makes this work unique. Indeed, at every turn, the research challenges the validity of the prevailing narrative of Australia’s history. Yet, the scholarship is tempered by an easy-to-read style that draws the reader on like a novel.


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Some key references:

  • Australia was not a penal settlement and ‘transportation’ was not a sentence by the courts for incarceration and punishment, but was intended to give people a ‘second chance’ at life.
  • Aboriginal people voted along with everyone else in the referendums for Federation.
  • Australia was Britain’s greatest commercial accident. When gold was discovered near Tamworth in 1852, shares in the Australian Agricultural Company sold on the London Stock Market for the equivalent of US$40,000 a share. By 1900 export trade from Australia to Britain reached some £90 million (US$13 billion at today’s value) – three times larger than Canada.
  • Australia becoming a republic is an idealistic notion with little chance of eventuating because the Commonwealth of Australia is a political system of shared sovereignty. As a federation, the Commonwealth and States have sovereignty within their own spheres and continue to have independent relationships with the Crown.


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