The strikers’ continued use of country for hunting and fishing purposes was a source of tension between themselves and the squatters. This letter from A. E. (Ted) Richardson refers to employment permits, issued by the Department, which were required by employers before Aboriginal people could be employed.
Tensions Rise Over Access to Land
18 Dec 1947
The Commissioner of Native Affairs
… I feel that you should take some responsibility for allowing the natives to camp at the 12 mile. If you have any control over them, you do not seem to show us that you have, or your sympathies are all with them & not with the pastoralists.
The natives are now taking the attitude they can camp anywhere they like as some of them have shifted from the 12 mile and gone 2 or 3 miles north on the same creek and that is further adding to our worries.
We regret your Mr O’Neil [sic] who was in Port Hedland just recently did not get in to communication with us, as we could have told him about it, also discussed the interview with Mr Gribble, so it appears to us you wish to avoid getting any further complaints from us re the natives.
You state your Department is willing at all times to do everything in its power to relieve the existing difficulties of the situation. What has been done by your Department in the last 18 months? It does not impress us very much that you have any power at all over them, but others seem to get things done. If McLeod orders them to go out and get gold, tin, or kangaroo skins they do so.
We were living in hopes that the natives at the 12 mile would have been away from there before the summer started. You are on the Box Seat, as if we did not pay for a permit you would take us to court for employing them without, but give no assistance to us when they are causing inconvenience and damage to our stock.
Once again hoping that we will get some relief, before very long.
P.S. I wrote to the Minister asking him to call for the copy of my letter for remarks on same, but as Parliament has broken up for Xmas holidays I suppose all my correspondence will be shelved.
Ted Richardson to Lew McBeath, 18 December 1947, SROWA, 1947/0305/186-87.