The Queensland government has settled a long-running stolen wages case for $190 million.
The settlement has been agreed to in principle by the government and lawyers representing about 10,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Hans Pearson, the lead applicant in the case, was seeking to recover wages earned, but alleged to have been unpaid in the period between 1939 and 1972.
Stuart Price, the chief executive of Litigation Lending – which funded the class action – said on Tuesday the settlement was momentous.
“It’s not a three-year journey, or a 12-year journey, or a 90-year journey for these 10,063 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and to reach a settlement is a huge credit to Hans for taking up this fight,” he said.
A statement of claim filed in 2016 in the Federal Court argued the Queensland government breached the trust of Aboriginal people by failing to protect their money.
“We’ve got to have justice. We worked for over 10 to 12 years for nothing,” Mr Pearson told the ABC’s 7.30 program in 2016.
“They’ve got to pay for what they’ve done. We’re not asking for their money, it’s our money.”
“Today marks an important day in rebuilding the relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders,” Deputy Premier Jackie Trad said.
The parties will apply to the Federal Court to seek to have the settlement approved at a date to be determined.
-more to come