In March 2010, the NSW Legislative Council passed a remarkable motion demanding the release of archival records relating to the death of the bushranger, ‘‘Captain Thunderbolt’’, who was shot by police in the New England (NSW) in May 1870. The interest in this 140-year-old episode from the colonial past reflects a suspicion that the police shot the wrong man in 1870 and that the colonial authorities engaged in a high-level conspiracy to conceal this from the public. More seriously, it has been alleged that the NSW government actively maintained a strict censorship over secret documents that reveal the true circumstances of the bushranger’s death. Even more remarkable is the fact that the Legislative Council motion was employed to advance the claims made in an historical novel. This article considers the alternative account of Thunderbolt’s death presented in Gregory Hamilton and Barry Sinclair’s Thunderbolt: Scourge of the Ranges (2009), and investigates the allegations concerning the censorship of historical records in the service of an ongoing state and police conspiracy. We demonstrate that the case made in the novel, and promoted in the NSW Parliament, has been built on a misrepresentation of the nature and practice of state record-keeping in NSW.
An extract from the article (the first three pages) can be found at Exposing an exposé