It was obvious that gaols in Britain were becoming dangerously full and that something had to be done to reduce the number of unwanted convicts. The quicker and cheaper solution would have been to send the convicts to Canada or to an island in the West Indies, but as we know, Australia was the chosen destination. The idea of exporting the convicts to the other side of the world is questionable. The same money could have been used to build more gaols in Canada or in the northern regions of Britain. Mr. K. M. Dallas brilliantly probed this mystery of relocation to the other side of the world as he proposed that England needed a new sea base and refitting port in order to strengthen their commercial empire in the East1. This is the position I will take in my essay as I believe that the access to raw materials, trading opportunities and the acquisition of territory for a new colony was far more beneficiary that the pure distance from Britain.
One of the main benefits with transporting the convicts to Australia was the access it gave them to raw materials. Materials were rich in availability, which was a great benefit as compared to that of England. Plants such as flax grew lusciously on and around the coast of Australia, and were used to create sailcloth and canvas, and were known to be three times as strong as the fibre used in England. Off the coast of Australia was Norfolk Island, which was considered to be a plant nursery. The forest on Norfolk Island grew tall green pine, which was used as a source for ships mainmasts and spars.
The geographic location of Australia gave England a huge trading opportunity, giving them access to not only the Dutch trading realm, but also to China and the Pacific Islands. The British Empire has been a closely integrated trading block: colonies had to send much of their produce to Britain and to buy British manufactured goods2. After the war with the America and European allies, Britain was seeking to re-establish its global trading position. Whales, Spanish loot, North American fur, and China tea, were four prizes, which a sea base in eastern Australia could possibly help capture for England3. England had a strong trade relationship with India and China, which was a major asset to have, but it was a relationship that was envied by strong European powers, which made them vulnerable. An aim was too establish and sustain an extraordinarily close set of economic relationships4, which would allow Australia to become better known in the trading empire.
When the British came to Australia, it was claimed as there own land. The British government envisaged a future in which Botany Bay would become a small but self-sustaining base that would promote and protect British commerce with the Far East5. The opportunity for many convicts to have a fresh start at life was talked about as a positive way of building a new colony. Many convicts took…