Aboriginal twins to ask MP for stolen wages justice

Image: aawl.org.au

The Queensland Council of Unions released the statement below on June 28.

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Aboriginal elders Paul and Arthur Ah Wang still want justice for their stolen wages.

Tomorrow, they will join other Indigenous leaders and Townsville Branch President of the Queensland Council of Unions (QCU) Les Moffitt for a meeting with Member for Townsville John Hathaway to continue their fight for what they are owed.

“We’ve sought this meeting with the new Member for Townsville to bring these Indigenous elders before him to share their side of the story,” Mr Moffitt said.

“We believe Mr Hathaway is keen to build bridges with the local Indigenous community and hope to better familiarise him with some of the issues of most importance, like stolen wages.”

From age 13, twins Paul and Arthur Ah Wang worked together on a pearling lugger off Mackay, free diving to collect pearl shell and doing deckhand duties.

Paul Ah Wang recalls that it was demanding and dangerous work. “Sometimes the waves were as high as a lamp post,” he said. “If we misbehaved we were often send below deck to bed without dinner.”

They are both victims of the Stolen Wages, but one has been paid and the other has not. Paul received just $3000 for his years of labour.

Arthur did not have sufficient documentary evidence for his application despite working alongside his brother — he has received nothing.

The Stolen Wages is a campaign conducted by the Qld Council of Unions to seek the full payment of the promised reparations of $55.4 million for wages withheld from Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander workers for decades of the last century.