Media Response to the Roth Report II

The following newspaper articles are responses to the Roth Report, recorded in the Western Australian Goldfields’ newspaper, the Kalgoorlie Miner. The newspaper and date are followed by the headlines as written in the article and brief outline of what is contained in the article. Click on the date to go to a PDF version of that item.

Kalgoorlie Miner
30 Jan 1905
Treatment of Aborigines
Indenture System Condemned
Grave Abuses
This item does not refer to the main findings of abuse, neglect and corruption by Anglo-Australians recorded in the Report and focusses only the abuses of Aboriginal labour by Asians working in the pearling industry.
214 words

Kalgoorlie Miner
01 Feb 1905
Dr Roth’s Report on Aborigines
Statement by Commissioner of Police
Denial of Charges
The Commissioner of Police, Captain Frederick Hare, “strongly denies the statements in connection with the manner in which native prisoners are arrested.”
382 words

Governor Sir Gerard Smith

Governor Sir Gerard Smith

Kalgoorlie Miner
01 Feb 1905
In the Waste Places of WA
This editorial comments on the abuse of apprentices contained in the Report. It refers to a previous attempt to investigate the ill-treatment of apprentices in the Goldfields, during the time of Governor Sir Gerard Smith in the late 1890s; it is a somewhat tongue-in-cheek and amusing description of the pompousness of the British Raj:
“It will be remembered how some years ago rumours of the treatment of the aboriginal apprentices by some of their owners reached the old country and the Home Government deputed Governor Sir Gerard Smith to [investigate]. This he undertook personally and thoroughly. People on the borders of civilization bear vividly in mind how he and his retinue started out into the wilds with all pomp and circumstance of camels, cane lounges, umbrellas, cooking utensils, and what not – possibly a tennis set – and how small boys cheered and gave patronizing encouragement to the expedition into the great unknown. What the result of this well-equipped inquiry was is not generally known. The leader certainly returned safely or his disappearance would surely have been notified, but a great reticence was observed, and no noticeable change has since taken place. The rattling of the pots and pans on the camel’s back perhaps warned the men expected to be caught, and time was thus given them to wash and clothe the apprentices and bind up their wounds and pour in oil and wine. And there was leisure for the children to be taught hymns and catchisms and to learn how to say how happy they were.”
1,128 words

1871 Select Committee Report

Report Title:
1871 Report of the Select Committee of the Legislative Council relative to the Aboriginal Natives

The 1871 Select Committee Report can viewed online at AIATSIS. The committee, drawn from the Members of the Legislative Council, consisted of Robert Walcott (Attorney-General), George Shenton, James Drummond, William Marmion, Maitland Brown, and John Monger.

The report reads:

The Committee recommend the passing of An Act relating to apprentices.

They also recommend that grants of land may be made to such Aboriginal Natives as are recommended by the Principal of any Native Industrial Institution, upon the following conditions:-

That no Aboriginal Native shall be permitted to sell, transfer, or let such land without the recommendation of the Principal of a Native Industrial Institution and the consent of the Governor.

The Governor to reserve the right to resume all grants of Aboriginal Natives should the grantees neglect to improve or cultivate the land so granted for three consecutive years.

R J Walcott