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Tuesday, 13 June 2006
Page: 124


Senator BARTLETT (7:39 PM) —by leave—I move the motion as amended:

That the following matters be referred to the Legal and Constitutional References Committee for inquiry and report by the last sitting day of 2006:

With regard to Indigenous workers whose paid labour was controlled by Government:

(a)   the approximate number of Indigenous workers in each state and territory whose paid labour was controlled by government; what measures were taken to safeguard them from physical, sexual and employment abuses and in response to reported abuses;

(b)   all financial arrangements regarding their wages, including amounts withheld under government control, access by workers to their savings and evidence provided to workers of transactions on their accounts; evidence of fraud or negligence on Indigenous monies and measures implemented to secure them; imposition of levies and taxes in addition to federal income tax;

(c)   what trust funds were established from Indigenous earnings, entitlements and enterprise; government transactions on these funds and how were they secured from fraud, negligence or misappropriation;

(d)   all controls, disbursement and security of federal benefits including maternity allowances, child endowment and pensions, and entitlements such as workers compensation and inheritances;

(e)   previous investigations by states and territories into official management of Indigenous monies;

(f)   current measures to disclose evidence of historical financial controls to affected Indigenous families; the extent of current databases and resources applied to make this information publicly available; whether all financial records should be controlled by a qualified neutral body to ensure security of the data and equity of access;

(g)   commitments by state and territory governments to quantify wages, savings and entitlements missing or misappropriated under official management; the responsibility of governments to repay or compensate those who suffered physically or financially under ‘protection’ regimes;

(h)   what mechanisms have been implemented in other jurisdictions with similar histories of Indigenous protection strategies to redress injustices suffered by wards; and

(i)   whether there is a need to ‘set the record straight’ through a national forum to publicly air the complexity and the consequences of mandatory controls over Indigenous labour and finances during most of the 20th century.

Question agreed to.