Shocking story in the Weekend Australian regarding the family of Olympic hero Cathy Freeman, who has been forced to pay a 50-year-old debt of two pounds and five shillings for a pauper’s grave left unpaid by the Queensland Protector of Aborigines before they were allowed to bury a relative yesterday.
The Cemetary refused to bury the relative until they paid this bill that had been left unpaid by the Queensland Government. Shouldn’t the cemetary have pursued the government? I am sure they did, but as you see over the Queensland Government’s fight over reimbursing stolen wages, there would have been fat chance of that. Anyway, the story continues….
In 1950, the Queensland Protector of Aborigines – the body that had government-mandated control of Aborigines’ lives at the time – failed to pay the money to buy a plot when the family matriarch, Annie Sibley, was buried as a pauper.
Freeman’s mother, Celia Barber, told The Weekend Australian she discovered that her family would have to pay the 1950s bill at “today’s rates” – $990 – when she went to Morley’s funeral parlour in Townsville on Wednesday.
She was arranging for the burial of her niece, Anne-Maree Sibley, 33, who died of a heart attack. The family had agreed that Ms Sibley should be buried in the same grave as her great-grandmother – Mrs Barber’s grandmother – Annie Sibley, who died on August 29, 1950, aged 50.
But she was told the burial could not go ahead until the family settled the government’s ancient debt.
“When I went to the funeral parlour, they said they could not go ahead with the burial this week until I paid for the grave of my grandmother because the Protector of Aborigines had never paid for it,” Mrs Barber said.
“I was told the amount outstanding was two pounds five shillings, but we would have to pay at today’s rates, which was $495 for the back cost of the grave, and the same amount to re-open it.
“I was devastated. We just wanted to put our little girl to rest. We didn’t want to deal with this other issue. I had no choice but to pay it.”
Until the 1970s, legislation in Queensland placed all Aborigines under the control of the government.
No Aborigine could obtain work, move residence, or even marry without the prior permission of ‘The Protector’.
Any wages they were paid were given to The Protector (who, in many cases in remote places, was the local policeman) and he doled out small amounts on request, if he agreed with the proposed purchases.
The hated legislation is known among Queensland Aborigines as “The Dog Act”.
History shows much of that money was stolen and Aborigines never received it.
Thousands are now fighting for the “stolen wages” in Queensland from a multi-million-dollar fund that is held by the Queensland Government.
Three years ago Queensland Premier Peter Beattie — under pressure to repay the wages to the people from who it had been kept — offered amounts of $4000 and $2000 in a “final” settlement for all who could “prove” they had not received their pay kept by the Protector.
However, it was not previously known that Aborigines were buried “on the cheap” in paupers’ gravess
John Howard said something a few weeks ago that I finally agree with, and that is that Australia would be better off without states and state governments. This is proof of point I think.
Interested in Australia’s criminal human rights abuses?
Start by watching Rabbit Proof Fence.
Fascist Andrew Bolt from Rupert Murdoch’s Herald Sun denies anything ever happened.
Atta-boy Andrew, suck up to the boss.