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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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Disputed Borders on the Pearl Frontier

Disputed Borders on the Pearl Frontier

(p.131) Chapter Eight Disputed Borders on the Pearl Frontier
The Pearl Frontier

Julia Martínez

Adrian Vickers

University of Hawai'i Press

Following World War II, the newly independent Indonesian government challenged the supply of Indonesian labor to Australian companies and their access to pearling grounds within Indonesian waters. In 1948 the Chifley government had given its support to Indonesian independence, but by the 1950s the relationship with Liberal Menzies government was strained. The pearling industry had been able to renegotiate access to Indonesian labor from Kupang while it remained part of the Dutch-sponsored East Indonesian State. In 1950 when eastern Indonesia was merged into the Indonesian Republic at least one Australian pearler, Bill Edwards, helped provide support for the alternative and short-lived Republic of the South Moluccas. The Australian government dealt poorly with Indonesian accusations of worker exploitation and eventually in 1955 the Indonesian government shut down access to Indonesian labor. It was not until 1970 that the Australians finally recognized that the indentured labor system was an outdated relic of the colonial era.

Keywords:   decolonization, indentured labor, Menzies, Chifley, East Indonesian State, Republic of the South Moluccas

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