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A Great Australian Dies

An outspoken man has died with little fanfare and hardly a report in the media. Yet this man spoke out about injustice in Australia all his life. His name was Arthur Murray. Australians once lived longer than people anywhere else  - the white people that is. "Blackfellas" died young and they could not even vote.

Aboriginal men were hired at very low rates of pay in outback cotton fields. Arthur worked with them. Pesticides were dropped directly on top of them, planes flying so low the workers had to quickly lie face down in the mud. The white pilots didn't care. In 1973 thousands of dead fish floated in the Namoi River, killed by pesticides.

Arthur had had enough. He went on strike with other Aboriginals. Five hundred disgruntled men marched through the center of Wee Waa. The local newspaper said they were radicals. They were called boongs and niggers, though many had vomited in the fields after spraying and some suffered from permanent coughing. Their tents were burnt and they went hungry.

Arthur was targeted by police. They trumped up a charge of trespassing on the property of the Returned Serviceman's Club. In court he made a statement that was to start a movement and change Australian law. He said that all of Australia was Aboriginal land so he had the right to go anywhere. Police hatred continued. His son was arrested for drunkenness and died mysteriously in a cell. Arthur managed to get his son's body exhumed and it was shown that he died from a broken sternum - he was beaten to death.

The police didn't win though. Even today police say the Wee Waa station is haunted by Eddie Murray's ghost. They asked the Aboriginals to do a "smoke Out" cleansing of the cell. They refused.

A man who came at the right time to change things, Arthur Murray died at the age of 70. The life expectancy of Aboriginal men is 45 years.
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