The exploitation of Islander pearl divers in Torres Strait and the Queensland Government's control of divers' wages was the major cause of a strike by 400 divers in 1936. The strike was also fuelled by overall discontent with the Queensland Government's rule and a desire to be free of the Queensland Protectors. An address in 1935 by Stephen Davies, Bishop of Carpentaria, urging the Commonwealth of Australia to strip Queensland and other states of management of Island and Aboriginal affairs provided the catalyst. Davies's Torres Strait Island clergy played a pivotal role in the resistance to state control. One lasting effect of the strike lay in the introduction of elected Islander councils in 1937, but what happened subsequently allowed the perpetuation of Queensland control through the new Department of Native Affairs. The results of the strike fell short of the complete transfer to the Commonwealth that the Torres Strait pearl divers and clergy had envisaged.
Field of Research
210399 Historical Studies not elsewhere classified