Great front page story in The Weekend Australian about native stockmen getting off welfare and the grog to regain their pride and purpose after a generation in exile.
Never forget how the Commonwealth Industrial Commission ignored advice on the anticipated result of their decision and decided that the native stockmen could have welfare instead of work in the cattle industry.
Mr Justice Kirby, who presided in the Cattle Industry Case (113 CAR 651) told his biographer Blanche d’Alpuget that he believed that case would ‘be seen as the greatest contribution he and other members of the Commission made to Australian society’
The idea was to pay the native stockmen the same wages as the white employees but that decision ignored the very different conditions that the native stockmen enjoyed. They were effectively casuals, working on the musters and then going off about their own interests when they wished. Their families received rations from the station.
The Commonwealth was represented in the case by counsel and its most useful contribution, according to d’Alpuget, was a defeatist one: if numbers of aborigines were thrown out of work by the award of equal pay they would be given aid (i.e.’welfare’) on government settlements. (page 181)
The case was about full blood Northern Territory aborigines on the cattle stations, and not about part blood aborigines.
One of the central arguments of the pastoralists was to stress that the full blood aborigines on the cattle stations were very different indeed from the fringe dwellers, mainly half caste, living near some country towns in the south. The pastoralists argued that the full blood aborigines on the cattle stations, who were illiterate, uneducated, semi-tribal aborigines, should not be converted by unemployment into fringe dwellers of the kind to be seen in Darwin, Alice Springs, Katherine and other places. They should be helped to continue to live ‘in their own country’, with employment in the cattle industry, with gradually improving education, experience and efficiency and enjoying growing economic reward.
They should not be cast into unemployment and made into pensioners in settlements as a step towards becoming fringe dwellers.
But that is what happened, courtesy of economic illiteracy and political correctness. It is a pity that the current move is not across the board, it just favours a few who are the beneficiaries of another piece of Commonwealth legislation.