Historic Bedford Truck restoration project
HISTORIC BEDFORD TRUCK TO BE RESTORED
Territory unions have negotiated a commitment from the Charles Darwin University to restore the Bedford truck used by union activists to ferry food and other goods to striking Gurindji stockmen and their families who participated in the historic walk off from British Lord Vesty’s Wave Hill station in 1966.
Unions NT Secretary Alan Paton welcomed the vehicle renovation proposal and complimented the CDU on its visionary proposal to have the vehicle restored to its former glory and to compliment the promotion of the prestigious annual Vincent Lingiari lecture.
The walk off by Wave Hill stockmen, resulted in a 9 year strike by Gurindji men under the leadership of Vincent Lingiari in protest at poor exploitative pastoral industry wages for indigenous workers was twofold in importance in the Northern Territory’s history.
Firstly the walk off at both Wave Hill and the Newcastle Waters stations highlighted the exploitation of Aboriginal pastoral industry workers and the need for equal pay for equal work in the NT Pastoral industry as well as being a significant catalyst for a future Commonwealth government to grant Land Rights to traditional land owners over areas where cattle industry barons and owners had illegally acquired and used those traditional lands in the NT, said Mr Paton.
A Darwin based project team recently convened to identify heritage concerns, sources of funding, ownership, display, events and the development of tourism related interpretative materials opportunities, proposed future use and restoration arrangements for the truck which will shortly be finalised with the CDU, Unions NT and the truck’s owner.
Territory unions including members of the then North Australian Workers Union and the Waterside Workers Federation raised funds both locally, nationally and internationally to provide food, clothing, funds and other forms of support for the Gurindji peoples affected by the Wave Hill walk off.
The Northern Territory public deserves to see and learn of the plight of the Gurindji stockmen and their historical resolve to secure fair pay and conditions in the pastoral industry, instead of payments of salted beef, tobacco and sugar as opposed to the then pay and conditions afforded to non-indigenous workers in that industry.
The Bedford truck represents the vehicle which assisted NT unions regularly meeting and communicating with the Gurindji peoples and in securing equal pay and land rights for indigenous Territorians, said Mr Paton.
For further information contact Alan Paton at Unions NT on 89 410001 or 0427415713
Published: 28 May 2013
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