Video Rogue nation, 2009: Democracy and the colony of NSW

TLF ID M008224

This clip is an excerpt from the 2009 documentary 'Honour among thieves', the first of a two-part television series entitled 'Rogue nation'. In a dramatised re-enactment, British Commissioner John Thomas Bigge investigates the colony of NSW in 1819. He is advised by John Macarthur, a member of the 'exclusives' class of free settlers and officers. Macarthur expresses dissatisfaction with Governor Lachlan Macquarie, saying that there are great opportunities in the new colony, but that Macquarie is keeping the convict labour to himself. Bigge is incredulous that the convicts are 'demanding their rights', and Macarthur says that 'there is a dangerous democratic feeling taking root here'. At the end of the clip, contemporary historian Michael Cathcart provides more context about the historical events.

Educational details

Educational value
  • This clip dramatises an aspect of the conflict between convicts 'demanding their rights', and both the authorities in Britain and the 'exclusives' class of free settlers and officers. Freed convicts were greatly supported by Lachlan Macquarie, governor of NSW from 1810 to 1821. Macquarie helped to develop the idea of Australia as a place where convicts could have a second chance, and where convicts' children could inherit. However, the colonial office strongly opposed this image of Australia as it wanted criminals to fear the threat of transportation.
  • One of the historical figures portrayed in the clip is John Macarthur. A decade before the events in the clip, Macarthur had led a powerful faction of landowners, entrepreneurs and local military to take on Governor William Bligh, the predecessor of Lachlan Macquarie. This had triggered Australia's only military coup, the Rum Rebellion of 1808.
Year level

4; 5; 6; 7; 8; 9; 10; 11; 12

Learning area
  • Civics and citizenship
  • History
  • Studies of society and environment

Other details

  • Contributor
  • Name: National Film and Sound Archive
  • Organization: National Film and Sound Archive
  • Description: content provider
  • Address: ACT, AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
  • Publisher
  • Name: National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA)
  • Organization: National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA)
  • Description: Publisher
  • Address: ACT, AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
Access profile
  • Generic
Learning Resource Type
  • Video
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