Rudd government should intervene in Queensland Stolen Wages disgrace

Queensland Senator Andrew Bartlett has urged federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin to intervene on the Queensland government’s continued refusal to pay back wages rightly earned by Aboriginal people in that state.

"Six years after their original inadequate response for repaying wages, the state government has not offered one extra cent, and instead has taken a big chunk of the money back and continued to exclude many people from receiving anything," Senator Bartlett said.

"Nobody in the community would accept being told that their wages are being used to set up a scholarship scheme to help disadvantaged people – let alone after a drawn out so-called ‘consultation process’ that ignored the widely expressed opposition to just such an idea."

"The federal government cannot expect Indigenous people to trust their words if they sit idly by and let their state Labor colleagues just steal people’s wages all over again.

"This sort of blatant breach of faith makes it much harder for other government programs and policies for Indigenous people to be successful, as it reinforces major mistrust and disillusionment.

An all-party Senate inquiry initiated by Senator Bartlett in 2006 unanimously found major injustices had occurred in regard to Stolen Wages which had not been properly remedied. The previous federal government never responded to the recommendations of that report.

"This is a key test for the federal government to show whether they are serious about remedying injustice or whether they will let a state government just walk all over Indigenous people yet again," Senator Bartlett concluded.

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