After many years of being paid only in rations, Banjo Morton and seven other Alyawarra men decided they wanted proper wages for their work as stockmen and station hands at the Lake Nash cattle station in the Northern Territory.
They did a wide range of jobs: carrying water from creeks, building fences, yards and roads, digging dams and bores, and a range of domestic duties for their employers’ homesteads.
When Banjo was working, and in the years leading up, employers needed a licence to employ Aboriginal workers.
“In my opinion, these Aboriginal stockmen have a good and just complaint and should receive correct value for the work performed. The main point today is that the station is practically 100% Aboriginal labour. The stock camp definitely is.”
“I’ve written in these terms but it’s evident the place is so isolated for even Native Affairs to worry about. Am forwarding a report to Native Affairs. My reason for this entry is that it will be on record for future reference and will not be disregarded as with possibly Native Affairs.”
“In my opinion, these Aboriginal stockmen have a good and just complaint and should receive correct value for the work performed. The main point today is that the station is practically 100% Aboriginal labour. The stock camp definitely is.
I’ve written in these terms but it’s evident the place is so isolated for even Native Affairs to worry about. Am forwarding a report to Native Affairs. My reason for this entry is that it will be on record for future reference and will not be disregarded as with possibly Native Affairs.”
Constable Jack Mahony, From the Lake Nash Police Journal Diary entry February 20, 1949
On July 9, 2019, the Queensland government agreed to pay $190 million dollars to Aboriginal workers in reparation for stolen trust fund and unpaid wages over three decades.
The Commonwealth government had jurisdiction over Northern Territory indigenous peoples from 1918 to Northern Territory self–government in 1978 but to date has not offered to pay back their stolen wages.
On November 29, 1949, the first Holden 48-215 was unveiled. It became affectionately known as the 'FX'. The FX was a robust and economical family sedan.
The price was set at £733 which represented 94 weeks wages for the average worker at the time. Or 733 weeks for an Aboriginal Lake Nash stockman.
The Commonwealth Electoral Act 1949 was amended to allow Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who served in the armed forces to vote in Federal elections. Government sanctioned removal of Indigenous children from their families at any time continued (Stolen Generations).
In June 1949, approximately 23,000 coal miners called a strike for better pay and conditions. At the time, around 25 workers died every year in mine accidents. Australia, completely dependent on coal and gas, was paralysed by the strike. In August 1949, the government brought in 2,500 troops to act as ‘scab’ workers on the coal fields. This was the first peace-time use of military forces to break a strike in Australia.
The Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme in New South Wales was nominated by the American Society of Engineers in 1967 as one of the engineering wonders of the world. The scheme brought thousands of migrants to Australia. Construction of the scheme officially started in 1949. It was completed 25 years later in 1974.
Ben Chifley was Australia’s 16th Prime Minister from 1945 - 1949. He began his working life as a railway engine driver in his home town of Bathurst, New South Wales. Ben Chifley became one of Australia’s most highly regarded Prime Ministers.
In 1949, the South African Prime Minister, D.F. Malan, introduced a system which became known as apartheid. It institutionalised the already existing segregation policy. Apartheid was an oppressive system of laws and regulations that kept black Africans in a substandard position to Whites. The government divided the races with segregated schools, buses, public spaces, and work reservations.
Shortly after the end of World War Two, civil war broke out in China between the Communists, led by Mao Tse Tung, and the ruling Kuomintang (KMT). The Communists were victorious, and on October 1, 1949, Mao proclaimed the founding of the People's Republic of China (PRC). Chiang Kai-shek, leader of the KMT, fled to the island of Taiwan.
Published in 1949, Nineteen Eighty-Four was the last novel of English author George Orwell. Serving as a warning against totalitarianism, Orwell’s ideas quickly entered mainstream culture. The book’s title and many of its concepts, such as Big Brother and the Thought Police, are still recognised as similes for modern social and political abuses. Ignoring his ill-health to finish the book, Orwell died of tuberculosis in 1950 at age 46.
In 1945, the East Indies nationalists rebelled against the colonial yoke of the Dutch. Equipped with Japanese weapons, the nationalists waged a four year armed struggle against the Dutch, who had powerful economic reasons for staying. The UN intervened and on November 2, 1949 at The Hague an agreement was reached transferring Dutch sovereignty of the East Indies to the United States of Indonesia.
In the autumn of 1948, Israel had applied for membership in the United Nations but failed to win the necessary majority in the Security Council. In the spring of 1949, the application was renewed. This time, with armistice agreements having been signed between Israel and Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon, Israel was admitted by 37 votes in favour, 12 against, with 9 abstentions.