News24

Stolen wages offer to Aborigines slammed

2012-03-07 11:06

Sydney - A rich Australian state's plan to pay up to $2 106 to Aboriginal people whose wages were kept from them for decades has been criticised as a "cruel and heartless offer".

Western Australia, a vast and resource-rich state riding a lucrative mining boom, has announced the payments for the "stolen wages" of Aboriginal people born before 1958 whose wages were controlled by the state government.

But the state's Aboriginal legal service said the payment was scant compensation for the practice under which for decades many indigenous workers were given only "pocket money" while their full wages were held back.

Dennis Eggington, chief executive of the Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia, described the payment plan as "a slap in the face and a cruel and heartless offer".

"This offer is an affront to all fair-minded Western Australians who believe in common decency and a fair go, and it is a vile and disgusting breach of the duty of this state to those whose wages were stolen," he said.

"In a state that is reaping a fortune from the resource sector, to offer nothing more than the crumbs off the table is reminiscent of the mission ration days," he said in a statement released on Tuesday.

Money never seen

For many years Australian governments placed extensive controls over the employment and wages of indigenous people.

In 2006 a Senate committee heard evidence of governments systematically withholding and mismanaging indigenous wages and entitlements for decades as well as evidence that Aborigines were underpaid or not paid at all.

In Western Australia (WA) the control of wages by employers, including the state government, was permitted under a law that gave the Department of Native Welfare the power to hold up to 75% of earnings in trust accounts.

In many instances, workers never saw this money.

WA Indigenous Affairs Minister Peter Collier said the wage law was one of "many unfortunate controls imposed on Aboriginal people by Federal and State governments across Australia" in the past.

He said most documentation about the accounts and monies held in trust had been lost, along with verification of who was affected and how much was held.

"For this reason, we have taken the decision to provide a reparation payment to those who can show they were affected," he said.

Comments
  • Peter - 2012-03-07 11:55

    What a bunch of racist pigs!!! And this was legislated!!! Where were the sanctions against Australia in the 70s and 80s?

      TheMetalWeasel - 2012-03-07 15:19

      Hey Peter, just one word for you - APARTHEID. Whilst Australian natives enjoyed the privilege of full citizenship including the right to vote, live where they wanted, talk to who they wanted, marry who they wanted, eat & drink where they wanted the original inhabitants of South Africa weren't even treated as human beings, even being tortured to death for demanding the right to be treated the same as anyone else. Honestly, no other country on earth has a more despicably appalling human rights record with such a recent history of legislated sickening abuses of basic human rights as South Africa. The words "Racist Pigs" & "Legislated" spring to mind about now.

      TSR01 - 2012-03-07 15:48

      ThePlasticFerret, let me guess, you either never took History in school, or have not yet reached the stage in your education process by which you would have the choice of studying history - otherwise, I'm certain you would not be spewing such frivolous and misguided statements. I do, however, agree, on your last sentence with regards to "Racist Pig" - you fill the role spectacularly. Learn more about the past before you make irresponsible claims in the present.

      TheMetalWeasel - 2012-03-07 16:15

      @TSR01 Like I said, just one word. APARTHEID - Legislated racial persecution. Methinks you're the one glaringly ignorant of your own history.

  • S - 2012-03-07 11:57

    Unbelievable! And to think Australia had to be the audacity to be one of South Africa's biggest critics about apartheid. Bloody hypocrites!

      TheMetalWeasel - 2012-03-07 15:09

      Yeah, because Australians have a monopoly on exploiting & persecuting natives. They're obviously the only ones who've colonized a previously inhabited land & they're definitely the only ones who've treated the native inhabitants poorly. England, France, Spain & Portugal never invaded the Americas, never oppressed & slaughtered the native inhabitants, never kidnapped free men & women from Africa to do work that they were too damn lazy to do themselves just like the Dutch never invaded South Africa, never brutalized, raped & pillaged the natives of southern Africa & Madagascar & South East Asia so that they could sit on their fat arses all day yet reap the profits earned by slaves. Where are the wages owed to those enslaved by your ancestors? Nope, Australians are the only ones to ever treat natives badly, in fact they're responsible for everything from the common cold to climate change. Dildo.

  • Mark - 2012-03-07 12:16

    Looks like Verwoed had a similar minded counter part down-under.

  • Honest Raymond Makoi - 2012-03-07 13:03

    Here it was the minority doing it to the extreme majority unlike there where it was the absolute majority doing it to a tiny minority... But either way it is a dent and shame on human history..

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