38[“Blacks Brutally Treated”, The Sydney Morning Herald, Wednesday 01 February 1905, page 6]







PERTH (W.A.), Tuesday.

Dealing with the treatment of aboriginal prisoners, Dr. Roth in his report to the Government writes, in connection with the arrest of aborigines accused of cattle stealing:—

“Your Commissioner has received evidence which demonstrates the existence of a most brutal and outrageous condition of affairs. The number of aborigines brought in being the great desideratum, each having a money value to the escorting officer, it is not surprising to find that little boys of immature age have been brought in to give evidence; that children, varying in age between 10 and 16 years, are charged with killing cattle; that blacks do not realise what they are sentenced for; and that an old and feeble native arrives at the end of his journey in a state of collapse, and dies 18 days after admission into the gaol. It is only fair to state with regard to the cattle-killing children, just referred to, some of whom were found neck-chained in Roeburne[sic] gaol, that as soon as the attention ot the Executive was drawn to them by the Commissioner they were released. Besides being half starved, the blacks are hammered on the way down, and rations are charged for to take the witnesses home. Again, it does not follow that they are escorted back. In some cases they are certainly not; in others they may hardly have time to get to their destination before they are rushed in again by the police with another mob. It is no secret that the police say that if the ration allowance was cut down or taken away they would not arrest so many natives. By their own assertions, every native caught means more money in their pockets. Reliable witnesses have heard such assertions made. At present there is nothing to prevent a constable arresting as many blacks as he choses[sic], while there is no limit to the number of witnesses he is allowed to bring in with him to secure n conviction. The accused are made to plead guilty at the muzzle of the rifle if need be.”

AB notes:

Roth makes his case very clearly, and yet another four years would pass before the lucrative business of arresting Aborigines for cattle killing would be dealt with effectively (by administrative changes).