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Indigenous wages already paid: Qld Govt

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on 5 Sep 2002.

The Queensland Government says investigations into the indigenous
lost-wages affair have found that all unpaid Aboriginal workers actually
received their money.

The comments have been made by Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander Policy, Judy Spence, following public outcry over a proposed $55
million reimbursement package.

Ms Spence says the State Government is standing by its offer, saying it is
all Queensland taxpayers can afford.

She says the money is a gesture of reconciliation.

"It has been revealed that all of the money was paid back to those
individuals and in fact by the early 1990s, there was no money left in the
wages and savings account and we clearly can trace that kind of
information," Ms Spence said.

"These accounts were audited every year and I think what we're finding is
a lot of misunderstanding and misinformation that's being put out in the
communities about what happened to the money."

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) says the
claim that the Aboriginal workers have been paid is rubbish.

North Queensland commissioner, Jenny Prior, is calling on the Government
to put the evidence on the table.

"It's quite insulting that she turns around after wasting over $200,000 of
consultation, to say now that they've got fresh evidence that our people
were paid," Ms Prior said.

"I think that's an outright lie. She's still continuing to put a pricetag
on reconciliation and if that is the case, the non-indigenous community
should be outraged that this Government is trying to do a cover-up by
wasting taxpayers' money."



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