The Commonwealth Arbitration and Reconciliation Commission in 1965 presided over a landmark case concerning the inclusion of Indigenous workers in the Cattle Industry (Northern Territory) Award 1951. The success of the Australian beef industry during the previous hundred years, especially in the Northern Territory, depended almost entirely upon the work of Indigenous cattle workers but they had rarely been paid. The Commission decided to include Indigenous people under the Award, but its characterisation as an Equal Wage Case is a misnomer. The arguments in the proceedings fuelled a decision that compromised the principle behind Award wages. First, the Commission relied on arguments regarding the lower work value of Indigenous workers to allow individuals to be categorised as ‘slow workers’ on below-Award wages. Second, the Commission referred to evidence on the Commonwealth’s assimilation policy to advocate the removal of workers from ‘tribal’ camps on stations. The transcripts reveal racial biases of the Commission that undermined the granting of Award wages.