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Sunday, 16 September 2007

Indigenous Stolen Wages

ANTAR have just released a national survey, Hard Labour, Stolen Wages: National Report on Stolen Wages by Dr Rosalind Kidd that provides a comprehensive survey on what is known about indignous stolen wages in every state and territory.

Ther report can be downloaded for free from the ANTAR website. Read it get angry and chase your local member on the issue.

Each chapter of the report provides a narrative account of the history of controls over indigenous people particularly as it related to their participation in the labour market and what is known about the handling of funds that were managed by pastroal stations, missions, other employers and the state and territory governments.

The detailed account of the conditions of near slavery and the fraud, mismanagement of funds, negligence by public officials and cost shifting by state governments, witholding of Commonwealth govrnment payments to individuals and using those funds to reduce state expenditure on spport of indigenous communities is worthy of the wrath and vocabulary of an Old Testament prophet. Micah or Amos could probably do a good job on this issue. There is an unbelievable amount of grist for their mill in this report.

"In 1934 the government was notified that ex-workers were starving to d death, but it refused to supply rations arguing this was the responsibility of station management" (p.73)

The amount of money that has been ripped out of the indigenous community over the past two centuries cannot be calculated precisely but is likely to run into several hundreds of millions of dollars at bare minimum and probably several times that amount.

And now we are heading off again down the track of government withholding payments to indigenous people. If the lack of recognition of the history of this sort of enterprise were not a matter so laden in pain and marinated in suffering for the indigenous community there might be space for black humour. History repeats itself (Marx said, I think) first as tragedy and then as farce, or was it the other way around?

1 comment:

priscilla said...

Thanks for letting people know about ANTaR's Stolen Wages report :)

It can be downloaded from

Priscilla @ ANTaR