Who is Ned Kelly? We all know him as a National Icon, some considered him as a murderer and does not, in fact, deserve to be one of Australia's faces, but what do we know? Do we celebrate him or loathe him? Even some of our historians praised him in literature, history and in media.
A lot of argument, though, is why are we considering a bushranger, who is defined as simply criminal and thief, as an Australian national identity?
Edward "NED" Kelly, was born from a poor household in Victoria and one of the eight children of Red and Ellen Kelly. He was claimed a hero at a tender age by risking his life to save another young boy's life from drowning. A green sash was given to him, as a medal to his bravery. He even wore this under his armor on his final showdown with the police, before being captured in 1880.
The controversy is an argument on how many writers and artists re-invent Ned Kelly as he covers a huge connection on issues that deals with the early Australians and Europeans, the environmental community, corruption, bushrangers, and convictism. These instigated the debate, angered and disturbed most Australians, even though some are showing different views and representations of his gang.
The nation is still divided on considering him as a hero. Many viewed him as a convicted murderer of a number of police officers, who were given prominent tombstones and a large memorial, while Kelly, on the other hand, is not as celebrated. He lies in an unmarked grave.
Around 1878, one officer in charge of the Greta Police Station. It was well known that the station could not be left without protection as there is an obvious lawlessness in Greta and Constable Alexander Fitzpatrick, also of Irish descent was ordered for duty but left and spent considerable time in a police headquarters miles away. He remembered about the warrant for Dan Kelly's (Ned's brother) horse stealing and went to Kelly's residence to arrest him but did not follow the police policy that at least two constables should visit the Kelly's. He waited for his suspects to arrive and when they Kelly's arrived, Ned shot him in his left arm with a revolver and was beaten assisted by Dan, Bill (brother in law) and their mother. On regaining his safety, he reported the grave affair to his superior. Although Ned Kelly's version is a very different story, he's not at home at the moment of contact and that the wounds of Fitzpatrick were self-inflicted.
Following that incident, due to injustice and the acceptance of Fitzpatrick's alibi and lame evidence, Williamson, Skillion and Ellen Kelly were charged with aiding and abetting attempted murder. Even the non-sympathisers considered Ellen Kelly's sentence to be unjust and unfair. Ned and Dan Kelly knew that they could not convince the police to believe their story so they went into hiding with the other friends completing the Kelly Gang, Joe Byrne, and Steve Hart. They were outlaws and was searched by police officers, whom they have killed. They were considered wanted with rewards on top of their heads. The public's massive outrage by the killing of these officials even made it possible that anyone who helped them in any way (aid, shelter or food) will be penalized. The Gang did not stop after that, they had committed numerous bank robberies.
The Jerilderie letter is one of the most important documents archived in the State Library of Victoria. Kelly composed a lengthy letter, who was rewritten by Joe Byrne for a neater handwriting. It aimed the story of a man, to distinguish his reasons for being an outlaw and justifying his actions and to summarize how he and his family suffered through the hands of law enforcement. Also, about the treatment of the poor in his territory.
His execution, at an early age of 25, lead to the investigation and findings of corruption, antagonism among the Irish Catholic minority in "Kelly country" north-eastern Victoria.
We are all aware that Ned Kelly was classified as a bushranger, a notorious criminal and as a murderer. Albeit, he had been supported and sympathized and believed to carry the symbol of the Australian Spirit. He was a young man, forced into crime to hold on to what he believes is right.
Is Ned Kelly your hero?