36a[“Dr. Roth’s Photographs”, The Brisbane Courier (Qld.), Friday 10 June 1904, page 4]
DR. ROTH’s PHOTOGRAPHS.
The Minister for Lands (Hon. J. T. Bell) laid on the table of the Legislative Assembly yesterday some correspondence between Dr. Roth, Protector of Aboriginals, and the department, with regard to certain statements made by Mr. J. Hamilton, M.L.A., in October last year. Mr. Hamilton had animadverted upon a photograph which had been taken by Dr. Roth. The latter, on seeing those remarks in “Hansard,” wrote to the Minister claiming redress. In a subsequent letter he commented upon the manner in which Mr. Hamilton had possessed himself of the photograph, and explained that it was a photograph which had been taken for scientific purposes. He added that an exact representation of it appeared in his “Ethnological Studies.” for which, indeed, it was taken, and a copy of that work hd been accepted by H.R.H. the Prince of Wales.
Condemnation of Roth in the Qld parliament began with action by John Hamilton,
member for Cook (Cape York and Torres Strait islands), in October 29th, 1902.
It was later revealed that Hamilton had lied to a member of the public service to obtain the photograph.
Roth, seeking redress, wrote to the Minister for Lands.
36b[“Yokohama Hamilton as a Guardian of Morality”, The Worker (Brisbane, Qld), Saturday 25 June 1904, page 3]
Yokohama Hamilton as a Guardian of Morality,
Among a mass of correspondence laid upon the table of the Legislative Assembly last week was one document of more than passing interest. It was a letter from the Chief Protector of Aboriginals, Dr. Roth, to the Under-Secretary of the Home Secretary’s Department, asking for “such redress as is possible for the vilifying statement made by the honourable member for Cook, as published in Hansard, 29th October, 1902, p. 989.”
The statement complained of is as follows:—
He and another honourable member had been requested to make another charge against Dr. Roth—that he had been guilty of taking photographs of male and female aboriginals in the most indecent positions. He could show honourable members the photographs, and he considered that to allow an officer who did that sort of thing to remain in the service was a disgrace to his chief. He contended that, in the interests of the public, an inquiry should be held.
Dr. Roth in his letter explains that the photograph shown to members of the House by the hon. member for Cook was one of which there is an identical illustration in his work, “Ethnological Studies,” which was published by the Queensland Government some five years ago, and a copy of which was “graciously accepted” by the Prince of Wales. The photograph was intended for strictly scientific use, and was placed for safe keeping in the custody of Mr. Mobsby, artist photographer to the Department of Agriculture, together with other scientific material and MSS. From this officer the hon. member for Cook obtained it by falsely representing that he had official authority to take it on loan. “Repeated applications for its return failed to do more than evoke a promise to ’send it round,’ which promise has never been fulfilled,” writes Dr. Roth, and his statement is confirmed by a letter from Mr. Mobsby. Mr. Hamilton, apparently, was “sending it round” in quite another fashion. The transaction is scarcely one calculated to enhance the reputation of Yokohama. It is too much to ask an unbelieving generation to accept the view that he acted solely in the interests of morality. The photograph that could wring a blush from the ex-Parliamentary lodger ought to be worth preserving as a pornographical curiosity, but what are we to say of the Queensland Government and of his Princeship of Wales, one of whom publishes, and the other accepts, reproductions of photos which have sent the crimson tide of outraged modesty flowing to the cheeks of Yokohama’s member?
Dr. Roth asks for redress; none is necessary. There is not another member of the Assembly who would have been guilty of so despicable a trick in order to injure one against whom a grudge was cherished. Dr. Roth need not put himself out of the way to vindicate his honour. The charge against him is answered, refuted, blasted to the four winds and utterly discredited by the source from which it emanates.
Roth had his allies, especially on the left. Quotable:
“Dr. Roth asks for redress; none is necessary. There is not another member of the Assembly who would have been guilty of so despicable a trick in order to injure one against whom a grudge was cherished. Dr. Roth need not put himself out of the way to vindicate his honour. The charge against him is answered, refuted, blasted to the four winds and utterly discredited by the source from which it emanates.”
36c[Editorial, Dampier Despatch (Broome, WA), Saturday 16 September 1905, Issue No. 228, page 338]
A rumour has reached us that an opinion has got abroad to the effect that we are not in accord with the Commissioner of Police and the Pearlers’ Association in their efforts to do justice to the black north and the pearlers in the matter of the accusations brought against them by Dr Roth and his fanatical followers.
To emphatically deny this rumour to our Broome readers is hardly necessary as our views and position in the matter are well known locally. But, for the benefit of outsiders, we might explain that the primary object of the “Dampier Despatch” being to publish, in Broome, telegraphic news of the outside world, to discuss at length such subjects as Pearlers and Aborigines (who are always with us) would be like carrying coals to Newcastle.
To put our opinion shortly:—
Roth’s report as regards the Broome district and Pearlers is inaccurate and exaggerated, and liable as a whole to give a very wrong and unjust impression to any readers unaquainted with the facts.
From his conduct here in refusing to hear the evidence of men with accurate information and long experience, we are driven to the conclusion that he came biassed, and with his mind already made up, and only looked for evidence that would fit in with his preconceived theories and plans. Now we are pleased to see, as evidenced by the publication of Captain Hare’s report, the Government now show a willingnesss to hear the other side of the question. The former treatment of Captain Hare and others gave one the impression that officials were not to be allowed to criticise the sacred words or actions of their little tin god, (doctor and scientific photographer) Roth.
This piece shows the extent of anti-Roth sentiment, and the extraordinary pressure placed upon the editor to adopt the view prevalent in the Broome community.
The writer is almost certainly the editor, John B. Hughes.