Informit article: ‘The quiet revolution’?

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Indigenous employment, the mining boom and official statistics

‘The misery of being exploited by capitalists’, wrote economist Joan Robinson, ‘is nothing compared to the misery of not being exploited at all’. This assumption underlies much of the current debate about Indigenous involvement in the resource extractive industries, a thesis put perhaps most prominently by Marcia Langton in her 2012 Boyer Lectures ‘The Quiet Revolution: Indigenous People and the Resources Boom’. In her lectures, Langton charts a shift in Indigenous relations with the mining industry, from one of antagonism to one of mutual benefits. In particular, Langton argues that mining employment ‘offers an alternative to the welfare transfers on which many remote and regional Aboriginal communities depend’. According to this thesis, the Indigenous mining-employment boom is caused by many factors including changing corporate cultures, recently recognised native title rights, shortages in the remote labour force and of course a mining boom that has coincided with a period of strong non-mining macroeconomic activity.

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