September, 2006, pb, 230x152mm, 224pp
RRP $34.95 incl. GST
And where were the lawyers? In the 1960s, when trust money was disappearing, there was still no one prepared to take the government to court to force it to obey its own laws, or at least to ensure that the wages were returned to those who had earned them…
A signal virtue of this book is its explanation of how Australian jurisprudence lags behind that of Canada and the US…plainly, governments have moral obligations to protect vulnerable citizens and legal obligations to compensate them for loss caused by mismanagement or malfeasance. — Geoffrey Robertson, QC
Ros Kidd uses official correspondence to reveal the extraordinary extent of government controls over Aboriginal wages, savings, endowments and pensions in twentieth century Queensland. In a disturbing indictment of the government’s $4000 reparations offer, Kidd unpicks official dealings on the huge trust funds compiled from private income and community endeavours, showing how governments used these finances to their advantage, while families and communities struggled in poverty.
Casting the evidence in terms of national and international litigation, particularly cases relating to government accountability for Indigenous interests, Kidd makes a powerful case that the Queensland government should be held to the same standards of accountability and redress as any major financial institution. Trustees on Trial is a timely warning for all other Australian jurisdictions to consider their liability for Aboriginal money taken in trust.
Ros Kidd has been working on the subject of the stolen wages since 1994. Her evidence to the 1996 HREOC Inquiry into under-paid wages resulted in a massive compensation offer. An Adjunct Research Fellow at Griffith University, she is a Member-at-Large for National ANTaR and a passionate advocate for justice for Aboriginal people.