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The Pearl FrontierIndonesian Labor and Indigenous Encounters in Australia's Northern Trading Network$
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Julia Martínez and Adrian Vickers

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780824840020

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824840020.001.0001

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Labor Migration to North Australia, 1901–1941

Labor Migration to North Australia, 1901–1941

(p.77) Chapter Five Labor Migration to North Australia, 1901–1941
The Pearl Frontier

Julia Martínez

Adrian Vickers

University of Hawai'i Press

In the early twentieth century pearling masters recruited some 1000 Indonesians yearly, though estimates are made difficult by the use of the generic term "Malay". In 1913 the Federal government thought to shut down the indenture trade, but the 1916 Royal Commission found in favor of Asian recruitment. Both Burns Philp and Dutch KPM steamers facilitated the transport of Indonesians with one voyage in 1938 bringing in 130 new recruits. Workers from Kupang and Dobo were favored in this period, being seen to offer a cheap alternative to Japanese workers. Some employers, like Victor Clark, who thought they could take advantage of Indonesians, quickly learnt that they were mistaken, although Clark did shift the focus of the Australian industry from Broome to Darwin. In Darwin Indonesian protests over food and wages were supported by the North Australian Workers' Union.

Keywords:   Indentured labor, shipping, pearling, Royal Commission, Kupang, Aru Islands, Indonesians, White Australia, wages, employment

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