Smiths General Contracting enterprise

Smiths General Contracting enterprise is established at Lambton in Newcastle. From the 1950s to 1980s, Smiths bring Aboriginal men and women from all over Australia to Newcastle and provide them with regular employment and opportunities to acquire specialised job skills in railway engineering and large industry, especially with BHP. During its heyday, Smiths employs over 130 men: seventy per cent are Aboriginal. The company plans to sponsor Aboriginal workers through technical college and university. Smith Brothers become the largest private employer of Aboriginal labour in Australia. They receive funding through the Aboriginal Loans Commission from the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. This is its undoing. The Department becomes increasingly involved in decision-making and strategic planning. Robert and Bill Smith win contracts and complete jobs unaware that they are losing control of their own company. Without any warning, Smiths is placed in receivership during 1981.