QLD: Taskforce formed to find justice for exploited indigenous workers

A new Taskforce has been formed to find a fair outcome for indigenous workers who were exploited by Queensland government authorities for decades.

Thousands of indigenous workers were underpaid - or not paid at all - by Queensland government authorities right up until the 1970s.

Queensland Council of Unions Townsville Branch President and RTBU Branch Organiser Northern Queensland Les Moffitt said he was thrilled at progress towards a resolution of the Stolen Wages after a long campaign.

“There are more than 3,000 estimated claimants who were knocked back under the past scheme because previous governments could not find their records.

“Now these people will be treated fairly with the respect they deserve for their hard work,” Les said.


Les commended the prompt actions of the Queensland Government to fulfil an election commitment to resolve the Stolen Wages.

The Taskforce work offers hope for previously unsuccessful claimants such as Uncle Conrad Yeatman, 74, seeking reparation for wages he said were never paid to him when he worked as a carpenter and labourer in north Queensland in the 1950s.

Les also outlined the case of the Ah Wang twins, Paul and Arthur, now aged 80. The pair had worked alongside each other on a pearling boat in the late 1940s but only Paul’s work records survived. Paul received reparations in 2003 but Arthur was denied any payments.

“He now has some hope of receiving fair outcome after 60 years, justice from a time when these workers simply had their wages stolen by their white 'protectors',” Les said.


The Queensland Government has committed to resource the Taskforce in addition to the $21 million it will pay out in reparations to Stolen Wages claimants.

An initial taskforce meeting will be followed by various community consultations to gather information and input towards final recommendations for government in November 2015, with payments in late 2015.