Recently the West Australian Government produced a report into the Stolen Wages of Indigenous people. A Task force was set up in 2006 to investigate the non payment of wages and entitlements to Indigenous people between 1905 and 1972. The value of the stolen wages could be as high as $300 million, withheld by both State and Federal Governments.
Yamatji leader Phil Moncrief – whose mother is owed more than 20 years’ worth of wages for work as a domestic hand on pastoral stations in the Gascoyne region – spoke to the Socialist Party.
Phil said “let me make it quite clear as an Aboriginal representative of our old people, that we will not accept anything less than full compensation for the wages and entitlements that were stolen from them. We want every cent paid to them that they’re entitled to and the report should be released publically so that we can re-evaluate the issue and get those monies back to those who will survive, and the next of kin should be compensated for the family members who were owed money but have passed on. They’ve waited long enough and they want their money”.
It is estimated that 30 per cent of the 750 claimants have died in the last six to nine months with many more facing death over the next few years. This report was written in 2008 prior to the Federal election but has still not been released to the public.
Aboriginal activist Howard Riley fears the State Government will ignore the report done for the previous Labor Government and put any compensation on hold for years because it will not be a priority in tough economic times.
This is an urgent matter as many of the claimants may die before receiving a cent of their stolen wages.
Socialist Party members in Perth are campaigning with the WA Aboriginal Rights Coalition (ARC) to fight for the Stolen Wages report to be made public and for full compensation to be made to all claimants. We are writing to all WA trade unions to support the campaign and ARC is planning a concert with Klub Kultja and local Aboriginal bands to spread the word and keep the pressure on the Barnet Liberal Government.
By Mick Suter