Labour History

Print ISSN: 0023-6942
European colonists employed significant numbers of Aboriginal children in a diverse range of occupations in the Moreton Bay District after 1842. The Queensland government, however, did not pass legislation controlling this employment until 1902. During this unregulated period, working Aboriginal children were very susceptible to abuse because they were members of a dispossessed indigenous population and because of their youthfulness. Large numbers of employed Aboriginal children experienced both psychological and physical trauma. Many were kidnapped and removed from their traditional localities, abused and did not receive remuneration for their labour. During this unregulated period, the state government instituted legislation to control the employment of European state children and this article considers whether similar legislation relating to working Aboriginal children would have reduced cases of mistreatment and abuse. It concludes that further legislation in this period would not have helped working Aboriginal children because European officials would probably have been reluctant to invoke these laws.
The pattern of assistance to women giving birth in rural Australia from 1850 to 1900 is investigated in this article.1 In the nineteenth century women assisted each other or called on 'handywomen' or midwives who had experience in confinements while doctors also acted in this capacity in more populated districts. Data from the civil registration of births is used to analyse the pattern of attendance at births of non-Aboriginal women in one rural area, Dungog and the Upper Williams Valley, New South Wales. The author explores the question of who was present at the delivery and assisted at the birth and concludes that about half the births were attended by women who gained a definite role in the community as midwife or 'handywoman' while the remainder were attended by female neighbours or relatives, a situation which was often reciprocated. Women attending births usually did this in a voluntary capacity although for a very few women this would have been an income-earning activity.
In 1869, Nora Barton chose to become one of the new 'Nightingale nurses' at Sydney Infirmary. She entered as a 'Sister Probationer', one who underwent training not so much to nurse, but to supervise nurses. Ideally, the sister probationers were upper middle class, Protestant, and conformed to the Nightingale image of reformed nursing. Barton was an ideal recruit as a sister probationer. Her experience provides an insight into Nightingale nursing as it adapted to Australian conditions, and helps explain why the English, class-based ideal of the sister probationer did not survive. Nora Barton's experience also offers a different perspective on the choices available to her and other middle class women. From our modern perspective, women like Barton had very restricted life choices. From the perspective of Nightingale and the founders of Nightingale nursing, colonial women not only had more choice than their British counterparts, they had too much choice.
from his comfortable Sydney office. How can we reconcile the optimism of the Herald with the realities of life during these years? In great measure, of course, the paradox might be explained in terms of the physical separation of wealth and poverty in nineteenth century Sydney, but in the case of Garran at least, who was so prominent a figure in circles concerned for the relief of the poor, ignorance seems unlikely. The answer, I believe, lies in a re-interpretation of the milk-and-honey view of Australia, that notion of a land of promise where men and women from the Old World would find, if not wealth, at least a modest comfort and contentment impossible in the lands of their birthplace.2 The important thing for the historian to remember is that the notion of the land of promise, while based solidly on a general material pros perity, and undeniably believed in by people from all classes, was a vision and not reality, a reflection of the set of beliefs holding together and pre serving from radical change the social structure of New South Wales. Its significance lay in the widespread loyalty for existing colonial society and middle class values generally, apparently secured through its presentation of the community as one which, although characterised by differences in rank and wealth, nonetheless seemed to promise that hard work and per severance would meet with just reward.3 Reality began to jar more noticeably with the vision in Sydney from the middle years of the 1870s, when the threat of epidemic disease provoked sanitary investigations whose findings forced a new and heightened awareness of the city poor, the ones for whom the bourgeois vision of the land of promise offered neither recognition of wrongs nor hope for substantive change.
This paper considers the work of children placed under the boarding out scheme in New South Wales in the period 1880-1920. It argues that work for, and by, boarded children was an intrinsic part of both ideology and functioning of the scheme. The paper suggests that, by boarding children in 'respectable' working class households (often in rural areas), the State Children's Relief Board placed children in situations where their exploitation, or overwork, was a significant possibility. It argues that the Board's mechanisms for ensuring the children's welfare under the scheme were not fail-proof and that exploitation, in variance from the scheme's ideals, did occur. However, the paper also suggests that the workload and intensity of the work undertaken by boarded children was commensurate with that performed by contemporaneous working class children who lived with their 'natural' families.
This article is a detailed analysis of the character and implications of a wide-ranging management agenda introduced by the Broken Hill Associated Smelters (BHAS) at its Port Pirie smelters from 1915 to 1929. This core group within the emerging Collins House empire distilled aspects of an international movement towards management 'welfarism', and applied it at Port Pirie with spectacular success. The agenda was targeted at both the workplace and the broader community. New committee-style structures gave workers a sense of involvement while also helping to enshrine an ideology of management/worker co-operation. This workplace agenda was complemented by efforts to 'reform' the town itself, by introducing new forms of 'respectable' recreation, adding to the services and facilities available to workers and their families, and generally making the company more central to the lives of its employees. Throughout the 1920s, the company met with considerable success on the industrial front. However, there is evidence of a cultural resistance to some of its broadly-targeted strategies. Resistance was especially apparent from workforce groups who were beyond the effective reach of BHAS management.
During the 1930s Depression the New South Wales Government passed the Married Women (Lecturers and Teachers) Act, 1932, which removed married women from the State service. There was provision for their re-employment on a temporary basis on grounds of 'hardship' but with catastrophic loss of salary and status. The legislation was interpreted by women as a backlash against legal, civic and economic gains of the previous 50 years. Their battle for repeal (achieved in 1947) was led by a coalition between Jessie Street's United Associations of Women and women within the New South Wales Teachers' Federation. Their campaign demonstrates the strengths and weaknesses of woman-centred politics in the interwar years, when women's organisations could mobilise quickly, but their efforts were weakened by the prevarication of organised labour both in the Labor Party and the Teachers' Federation, and by lack of unity among women themselves as they began to polarise around issues of socialism and imperialism.
In January 1933, Victoria's recently elected United Australia Party government enacted the Unemployment Relief (Administration) Bill, a piece of legislation which, in terms of its attempts to force the unemployed to work for sustenance, was unparalleled in any other state.1 From this time, the material fate of Victoria's unemployed rested greatly in its hands. The Act, which codified as well as added to previous legislation, formed the basis of the Victorian state government's unemployment relief policy until the outbreak of World War II. It was arguably the most significant piece of legislation directed towards the unemployed in Australia during the Depression. The legislation was the handiwork of Wilfrid Kent Hughes, a man of unusually forceful and eccentric character, who prior to gaining office had frequently asserted his sympathy for fascism. Shortly before his period as Minister came to an end, he declared himself openly to have become, as he put it, a 'fascist without a shirt'. The paths which led him to this position, and the effects which his conversion may have had - both on the shaping of his legislation, and the responses to it - are worthy of more attention than historians have previously allocated to them. This paper examines these issues in the context of class relations, and attitudes towards fascism and democracy during this key period of the nation's history.
Previous studies of the 1934 anti-southern European riots in Kalgoorlie have predictably focused upon racial division. This article will address the other side of the story - examples of solidarity across perceived ethnic boundaries. While competitive labour relations in Kalgoorlie's goldmining industry undoubtedly created rifts, some attention should be given to the fashion in which the mines cohered a multi-ethnic workforce, sharing similar living and working conditions. It is suggested that this environment created as much basis for unity as it did for division. The article also contends that the Returned Services League played an ideological and practical role in fanning the outburst.
This article analyses a neglected piece of labour history within Australian coal mining - the industrial campaigns for the recognition, compensation and regulation of respiratory diseases due to the inhalation of coal dust. Australia is known on the international stage for its successful control of this notorious occupational hazard, but little is known about the basis of this success. This article argues that the origins of success can be found in the industrial disputes and political responses which led to Australia's relatively early recognition of coal dust disease as a legitimate and serious occupational hazard. Adopting a social constructionist theoretical framework, the article highlights the role of the Miners Federation and the State in mediating and interpreting medical and scientific disputation about whether or not coal dust was harmful. Using the dust issue as a powerful symbol of poor working conditions, the miners' campaign to resolve the problem coincided with the Chifley government's initial post-war strategy of industrial appeasement to take control of the chaotic industry. The task for resolving the problem was then given to Chifley's new post-war regulatory body, the NSW Joint Coal Board, effectively closing opportunities for medical views against the legitimacy of disease to retain a foothold in public policy.
Despite the great deal of attention given to social movements in recent years, a number of issues remain surprisingly under-explored. In particular, the relationship between various social movements and between social movements and social change are in need of much greater study. In this case study of the Australian lesbian and gay movement and the Victorian teachers' unions in the 1970s, I have attempted to explore the ways in which the social movement, as a political form, is able to have an impact on society, its institutions and structures.
Dr Barry Christophers, president of the Council for Aboriginal Rights, Victoria, and secretary of the Federal Council for Aboriginal Advancement's Equal Wages committee took on the work of challenging racially discriminatory clauses in a determination of the Tuberculosis Act. The campaign was a short, intense one. It began late in 1963. Eighteen months later, the clauses which prevented Aboriginal TB patients in Queensland from receiving an allowance designed to assist in recovery and prevent sufferers from returning to work when they were still infectious had been amended or removed. This was the result, mainly, of an effective letter writing campaign waged by Christophers. He also argued that one of the reasons for the non-payment of the tuberculosis allowance to eligible Aboriginal sufferers was that the receipt of such a payment would highlight the enormous discrepancy between actual Aboriginal wages in the north of the country and the basic government social service payment.
This paper explores the nature and extent of Australian women's unpaid work during the Great War. It examines the class basis of war work and considers the patriotic and philanthropic motivations behind it. Many accounts have dismissed war work with an empty tally of knitting and sewing. This paper considers the emotional labour invested in unpaid labour and recovers women's crucial role as the mediators of loss and bereavement. It identifies the paradoxical nature of war work, surveying the tension between militarism and humanitarianism and concludes that the movement at once challenged and enforced traditional gender roles.
Marian Quartly published an article in 1978 on an episode involving a female convict, Penelope Bourke, who had declared in 1832 that 'she only married to be free'. Quartly identifies a number of aspects relating to colonial marriage, the main one for this discussion being that consensual marriage was the most common form of cohabitation in the colony. It is a conclusion which she, herself, subsequently modified. The view of convict marriage expressed in Quartly's article has become a touchstone. The article itself and the subsequent authority it has attained, raise important historical and historiographical questions, some of which are addressed here.
The burgeoning feminist and labour movements provided the impetus for Annie Duncan and Belle Golding's employment as inspectors in the New South Wales public service in the late nineteenth century. This article demonstrates that their work was enmeshed in their feminist politics in the post-suffrage era, and Belle was also committed to the Labor party. As inspectors both women worked assiduously to improve conditions for women and girls in factories and shops, and deployed their differing personal and associational networks in the same cause. Given the nature of their work within the public service and their political commitment in the post-suffrage era, both Annie and Belle might reasonably be considered as early twentieth century femocrats.
This article introduces a special section on voluntary work and labour history which was timed to coincide with the United Nations International Year of the Volunteer (2001). Voluntary work has only recently been considered a relevant topic for labour history. Its past neglect reflects the widely held view that voluntary work is unproductive. Voluntary work challenges traditional labour history and directly confronts the changing nature of work in our society. By positioning voluntary work as the central category of analysis, this thematic section further extends the boundaries of labour history, and, it is argued, provides an improved framework of analysis. Focusing attention away from the labour movement and labour processes and towards the social and cultural processes of everyday life gives a refreshingly new perspective on labour history.
Mr Dobb examines the history of economic thought in the light of the modern controversy over capital theory and, more particularly, the appearance of Sraffa’s book The Production of Commodities by Means of Commodities, which was a watershed in the critical discussions constituted a crucial turning-point in the history of economics: an estimate not unconnected with his reinterpretation of nineteenth-century economic thought as consisting of two streams or traditions commonly confused under the generic title of ‘the classical tradition’ against which Jevons so strongly reacted.
Sir Timothy Coghlan (1855–1926) was the statistician for New South Wales from 1886. He produced the world's first example of national financial accounts, and is regarded as Australia's first ‘mandarin'. His advice was sought by state and federal governments on matters as diverse as tax, public sanitation and infant mortality. In 1905 he took up an appointment as a New South Wales government agent in London, remaining there for the rest of his life. First published in 1918, this monumental book is Coghlan's very personal history of Australia, embracing materials, population growth, trade and land. In Volume 4 Coghlan discusses in depth the foundation of the Australian Labor Party, which came after a series of devastating strikes in the 1890s. The recovery from depression and crisis, and the growing move towards federation, are also examined, alongside the recurrent themes of immigration, land and industry.
Michael Hess draws together the results of a decade of research into the history and evolution of labour regulation in Papua New Guinea, with particular attention to the growth of worker organization. He includes case studies of a number of unions.
This book examines the tendency in market economies to reduce the time workers spend at their place of employment and considers the role scientific management has played in this development. The author contends that the changing nature of worktime can be explained by changes in both the capitalistic production process and the demands that this process places on the psycho-physiological capacities of human beings. Between 1870 and 1980, the total annual worktime in major industrialized nations decreased by approximately 40 percent. This accelerated rate of worktime change is discussed in the context of the economic revival of capitalism that began in the first half of the twentieth century and culminated in the ‘long boom’ of 1945–1970. Professor Nyland argues that this revival is primarily explained by the rapid development and application of the process associated with scientific management. He further asserts that this science has been seriously misunderstood by most modern scholars outside socialist nations.
Master and Servant and Related Laws Enacted in the Australian Colonies and New Zealand 1828-1900 
Work, the State and Social Protection: Developed and Developing Countries 1880-2007
Australian Union Objectives 1801-1900 by period when union established; by number of unions to pursue this issue and (overall ranking) 
Australian Union Organisation, Methods and Activities 1801-1900 
The state has played a conspicuous role in the history of labour in Australia and New Zealand both as a focus for struggles and where the labour movement achieved a degree of influence that garnered the interest of progressives in other countries. The state is a complex institution and its relationship to labour has been equally complex especially when the differential impacts on different groups such as women are considered. The principal aim of this paper is to trace state regulation of work arrangements (not only those pertaining to industrial relations) in both countries over the period of European presence. Although there are significant similarities, a number of differences are identified and we also try to indicate how recent research and debate on the historiography of the state can provide new insights.
While there has been much research on union formation there has been little analysis of the ways in which employers assisted this process. This paper contends that such support was a precondition for union success in Brisbane prior to the mid-1880s. Employers supported unionism for different reasons, with motives changing over time. Prior to the late 1870s the unions' principal sponsors were the major employers in the trade each union organised. These employers supported unionism because industrial regulation suited their business interests. After 1879, the employers who assumed union leadership roles were largely driven by ideological sympathies rather than financial considerations. Under such leaders the union movement pursued an increasingly independent course. Yes Yes
"Provides a narrative account to supplement the statistical description of [the author's Australian domestic products, investment and foreign borrowing 1861-1868/39]" Incluye bibliografía e índice
During the period 1869-95 the Brisbane boot trade not only provided work for an increasing number of the city's residents, it also gave rise to two of Queensland's more significant trade unions. Of these, one, the Amalgamated Operative Boot Trade Union, gave voice to male craftsmen seeking to defend their status as independent handicraft producers. The other, the Female Boot-Machinists Union, proved to be the largest and most enduring female industrial organisation established in Brisbane prior to 1900. Despite the commitment of both male and female bootmakers to the cause of organised labour, the relationship between the two groups was characterised by a fundamental disjuncture. In large part, this reflected the uneven and tardy introduction of mechanised production into the northern capital, as, prior to 1894-95, it was only the women who did 'the machinery'. In the end, this disjuncture left the cause of organised labour in a weakened state, despite the continuing growth in boot trade employment during the study period.
William Kenefick explores the impact of left-wing political radicalism, industrial unrest, and the Russian Revolution on the Scottish people not only in the west of Scotland but in Edinburgh and Leith, Dundee and Perth, Aberdeen, and the coalfields of Fife and the Lothians. He also considers the effect of industrial and political radicalism in the Scottish diaspora. Arts and Humanities Research Council Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland University of Dundee, History Research Fund
This article analyses the position of women in the economy of a rural community in the second half of the nineteenth century. The town of Dungog and its surrounding region in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales were being settled by Europeans in these decades. The article explores the relationship between family needs and aspirations, the economic constraints and opportunities available to women in this community. It concludes that while more economic opportunities such as teaching and nursing were opening for single women, most women's work remained part of the family enterprise. In addition, women's unpaid labour was vital in the creation of Dungog's quality infrastructure such as schools, churches and hospitals.
The two great upsurges in Australian union mobilisation occurred in the 1880s and the first decade of the twentieth century. In both cases membership increased in scope and intensity: an expansion of the number of union organisations across a wider range of industries and occupations, as well as an increase of union density in industries and occupations where unions already existed. However, a major environmental difference between the two upsurges in mass unionism was the existence of a system of compulsory state arbitration, from 1901 in NSW and from 1904 in the Commonwealth. It has commonly been observed that the legislation was critical in assisting rapid trade union growth in the early 1900s. This article examines in more detail the factors common to both the 1880s and early 1900s which contributed to union mobilisation, and reviews the evidence for a major role for the arbitration system in the latter period. It concludes that the statistics have been misused and misunderstood by those previously relying on them to argue that the arbitration system was critical for the expansion of unionism in the early 1900s. Union growth in the early 1900s seems to have had a similar basis to that in the 1880s: strong localised communities, perceived threats to working conditions, and a strong coordinating role by peak union bodies, together with a broad consensus providing a public place for unions. The role of the state was a critical factor in the early 1900s in constructing this public place for unions, even if the operation of the arbitration system itself was not a major direct contributor to union growth.
Australia’s single taxers had a chequered relationship with the labour movement during the 1890s. Many collaborated with Labor at the beginning of the decade, but later broke from it in favour of the conservative free trade lobby. Largely because of this, labour historians have interpreted the single taxers’ relationship to class in different ways. This endeavour has been misconceived, because the single taxers renounced class as the key to their politics. They presented themselves as ‘above class’ and adopted a populist worldview. I explore the single taxers’ self-representation here, detailing the ways in which they rejected class through their rhetoric, modes of dress, eclectic friendships, eccentric manners and millennial religiosity. However, the fact that single taxers rejected class does not mean that the material realm had no infl uence over their politics. Single tax men’s presentation of themselves as ‘above class’ was indeed informed by their uncertain material circumstances during the 1890s. Recognising this allows a critical engagement with the work of Patrick Joyce, Gareth Stedman Jones and Joan Scott to take place in this paper.
In April 1899, 28 men met in Coolgardie on the Eastern Goldfields to hold Western Australia's first Trades Union Council. It was the genesis of an organised labour movement that, by 1907 was to span the vast State. For 60 years the Australian Labor Party in Western Australia was unique, comprising political and industrial wings in one united body, thus exemplifying the motto, Unity is Strength. Changing circumstances, including the Party split in the 1950s, however, revealed the need to change the existing structure and an independent Trades and Labor Council formed in 1963. During the ALP's first century, Labor governments held in office in the State for a total of 45 years, leaving an impressive record of social and political reform despite always having to contend with a non-Labor majority in the Legislative Council. Interwoven with the stories of Premiers, Party and union leaders, however, in this Centenary History of the Australian Labor Party (WA), Bobbie Oliver includes the contributions of bush organisers and party workers. Drawing on a vast body of archival material, Dr Oliver relates the slow and often unseen progress of women and minority groups in achieving influence in the Party or the industrial organization. Together with the well publicized struggles and triumphs of the twentieth century including: the 40-hour week, the right of free speech and assembly, health and safety in the workplace, an equitable voting system, are Party splits over conscription in 1916 and in the 1950s creating the Democratic Labor Party; the rise of factionalism, disputes between the Party and the TLC, and 'WA Inc'. In the late 1990s, in the context of hostile 'Third Wave' industrial legislation and the 'War on the Wharves', the ALP and the Trades and Labor Council found new truth in the old motto, Unity is Strength.
During the nineteenth century, Ipswich was Queensland's premier industrial centre outside the colony's capital, its prosperity resting on the district's coal mines and railway workshops. Yet, despite Ipswich being an overwhelming working class town, organised labour remained a marginal force. Instead, Ipswich's workers and their families placed local loyalties ahead of industrial allegiances. The strength of these local ties reflected the importance of family-owned concerns, which allowed the town's patriarchs to dominate Ipswich's political and social life. After 1900, however, Ipswich's political-economy underwent a profound transformation as the town's old families lost their position of pre-eminence to outside firms. As new avenues for employment emerged, organised labour found the social space in which to develop its own sense of identity. This labour identity was, however, shaped by the experience of Ipswich's various locations, producing not a united working class, but one fractured by differing goals and aspirations.
For several centuries artisanal meanings dominated Anglophone discourse on skill. By the start of the twentieth century this dominance was being eroded. The records of the New South Wales Arbitration Court show that older artisanall11eanings were losing the credibility that they used to have and were being contested by new understandings of skill more attuned to the commodified labour regime of industrial capitalism. Heydon's apparent oxymoron reflected his position as a mediator of these changes, trying to balance the historical stability presented by artisanal classifications, with the taxonomy that was developing to describe new and more-intensive commodified industrial realities.
Between 1917 and the early 1930s the Right achieved political hegemony in Australia. Based largely upon neglected contemporary sources, this article maintains that the politics of loyalism to nation and empire contributed significantly to the Right's electoral domination. The first section of the article traces the successful attempt of the Nationalists and their allies to tar the Australian Labor Party (ALP) with the brushes of disloyalty and extremism mainly during federal elections. The second section examines the nature of the ALP's response around the tenets of 'true Australianism'. The third section describes and explains the mixed picture in terms of state elections. The conclusion evaluates the overall national situation.
This is chapter 1 of Black and White Together FCAATSI: The Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Straight Islanders, 1958-1972. In the l950s Australia considered itself the land of the fair go. However, this was not the experience of Indigenous Australians who were excluded from the vote, equal wages, education and social services. Action against such disparity came in 1958 with the creation of the grassroots organisation, the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders, whose founding members were black and white. As the first national lobby group of its kind, it achieved sweeping social and legislative reforms for Indigenous Australians. Over the next decade, unions, religious groups, communists, students, artists and activists joined in the timely alliance, campaigning for inclusive civil rights and land rights. Conflicting ideologies and shifts in leadership strained the group's harmony and effectiveness. With the advent of black power politics and the Tent Embassy, FCAATSI became an Indigenous body and the inter-racial coalition came to an end. This rigorously researched and absorbing book on Australia's pre-eminent Indigenous civil rights organisation began as an oral history and contains rare interviews with former members and strategists, including Faith Bandler, Charles Perkins, Stan Davey, Shirley Andrews and Joe McGinness.
The 1959 Australian and New Zealand International Congress for Peace and Disarmament, held in Melbourne, was the first major public event for the left in Australia after the splits in the ALP and the CPA that had occurred between 1955 and 1958. It was notable not so much for its success in attracting large numbers of delegates and for the declarations that came from it as for the brawling that took place during it, particularly over the issue of freedom of speech and the gaoling or execution of dissidents in the Soviet Union and Hungary. The Congress for Cultural Freedom and its allies had prior to the Congress organised groups to support the dissidents, but the members of these groups were seen by the Congress organisers as right-wing disrupters trying to destroy the unity of the Congress and to divert it from its primary objective. Although the organisers secured the numbers on the floor of the Congress and at its constituent special interest meetings, the conflict revealed new divisions on the left, between former Communists and younger members of a new left on the one hand, and the continuing leadership of the CPA and of the Victorian ALP on the other. This paper challenges the view that the Congress achieved a unity on the left in support of its aims. It shows how new alliances cut across old divisions between a left aligned with the Communist party and a right aligned with Catholic Action. The new divisions helped to paralyse Labor as a political force for another decade.
A number of studies have explained the industrial relations dynamics of New Zealand's most important export sector by examining its turbulent pattern of disputation. Rather than focus on industrial disputes in isolation, this paper traces a series of organisational relationships that followed the production of meat - through processing, storage and shipping - from farmer to consumer. The main focus of the paper is the relationship between meat processing employers and their association officials. The paper explains why individual employers attempted to challenge association policies and why association officials attempted to regulate the behaviour of their recalcitrant affiliates. Set during a period of both product market and industrial relations transition, the paper demonstrates how association officials strove with mixed success to present a united front to the industry's powerful unions, preserve relativities between different groups of workers, contain operating costs, and, overall, regulate competition within the industry.
The Commonwealth Arbitration and Reconciliation Commission in 1965 presided over a landmark case concerning the inclusion of Indigenous workers in the Cattle Industry (Northern Territory) Award 1951. The success of the Australian beef industry during the previous hundred years, especially in the Northern Territory, depended almost entirely upon the work of Indigenous cattle workers but they had rarely been paid. The Commission decided to include Indigenous people under the Award, but its characterisation as an Equal Wage Case is a misnomer. The arguments in the proceedings fuelled a decision that compromised the principle behind Award wages. First, the Commission relied on arguments regarding the lower work value of Indigenous workers to allow individuals to be categorised as 'slow workers' on below-Award wages. Second, the Commission referred to evidence on the Commonwealth's assimilation policy to advocate the removal of workers from 'tribal' camps on stations. The transcripts reveal racial biases of the Commission that undermined the granting of Award wages.
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