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Friday, 23 November 1979

Senator KEEFFE - There are a number of attachments to the document which I will not incorporate. They are nearly all statutory declarations. They were signed by Leigh van der Hoek, the man who was sacked; Roy Mclvor; Leo Rosendale, Justice of the Peace; and Ted Bowen, a council member. There are further declarations from Roy Mclvor and Jurgen Peterfeld. There are a number of minutes. I will not seek their incorporation in Hansard; I will merely refer to them. Probably the major statutory declaration was made by Roy Mclvor. It states:

I, Roy Mclvor of Hope Vale, in the State of Queensland, do solemnly and sincerely declare that on Friday, 9 November 1979 at 4.20 p.m. I saw Collin Roll and Benny McGreen pull up in a Land Rover in front of my house while I was working in the backyard trimming boomerangs. From under the house I saw Collin Roll get out of the car and approach the meter box. I suspected him having intentions of cutting off my power, because our account may have been overdue. I went inside and tried to turn the lights on without success. This made me very angry, because he showed no consideration or the decency of knocking on the door and informing me of his intentions especially since my wife had gone to the office at half past eight in the morning to settle the account, but Eileen Deemal-

The lass who accepts the payments- was not there to receive payments. If Collin Roll had approached me in a proper manner I would have accepted the fact that he was only doing his job (although I wonder whether he has the authority to do this) however, I can't see why the electricity had to be disconnected on Friday which gives us no opportunity to have power put back on before Monday. Even the most inconsiderate person can imagine what will happen to our perishable food in the fridge over Saturday and Sunday.

This is typical of the harassment that goes on amongst the community on that mission if its members dare to speak up for themselves. There is a reference in the papers which were incorporated to the silica sand mine at Cape Flattery. There has been a veil of secrecy over where money goes and who was involved in the shifting of company ownership, although we know that the profits go to Japan. The mission itself over a period of many years allegedly has received only about $6,000 or $7,000. The statutory declaration continued:

After that I met my wife who was returning from the store and I told her to get the money so that we could catch up with Collin Roll to show him that we had the money and intended to pay the account. We went around the village to look for Collin Roll and Benny McGreen and found them in front of Alfie Cobus ' home, where Collin Roll was in the process of removing the fuse from the electric light pole in order to cut off the power to their house. Again he showed no courtesy at all and despite Mrs Cobus looking on from the front steps of her house he made absolutely no effort to inform her that he was about to cut off her power. By now I was furious and all the years of pent up frustration of seeing myself and my people treated worse than dogs made me grab this missionary by the shoulders. I shook him and I asked, 'What are you doing? Why don't you show some respect and treat our people like human beings?' Then I grabbed that frightened man by the collar of his shin, the poor quality of which did not stand up to the treatment, and all the while he did not say much and the little he did say was a bit garbled and hard to understand. When my wife called out to me, 'That's enough! ' I let go of him, regrettably, because I didn't even hit him. Benny McGreen was standing by and I said to him, Why don't you as our council-chairman see that things are done in a proper way to our people?' He said, 'Don't let's fight about this. We should talk about these things at the office'. Collin Roll informed us, that if we wanted the lights back on Eileen Deemal was the one to receive the money.

So my wife and I immediately went to the office, but as usual she was not there-

That was Eileen Deemal-

We waited for a while, then drove off and met her on the way. We followed her back to the office and paid the amount owing. We spotted Benny McGreen and Collin Roll at the garage talking to some men and we went straight away to him and showed him the receipt. He said, 'I can't do anything until Eileen gives the word'. And he would not take the receipt as proof. We drove home and shortly after five o'clock Benny McGreen and Collin Roll returned to put the lights back on.

At S.30 p.m. the police van pulled up in front of our house and four policemen under the command of Sergeant Francis Woibo sang out from outside the gate for me to come out, because they wanted to speak to me. I asked them, 'Why do you want to see me?' But all Francis Woibo said was that I should come down to the police station. I asked again, 'Why do you want me to go down there?' He said, 'You should not have done these silly things. I knew you would get into this mess. Just come down to the police station'. Because, as we all know, interfering with the police is a very dangerous thing to do at Hope Vale I went along to the Police Station knowing full well that I had not been charged or arrested.

Because of the limitation on time, I will not read the whole document. The statutory declaration continues:

At the police station I had to sit in silence until the police had rounded up all the councillors with the exception of Ernie Bowen. Finally the four councillors arrived and Bennie McGreen started off by saying that I almost choked Collin Roll and that I gave him a good punch up. I never punched Collin Roll so I replied, 'You as our council Chairman have the responsibility to see that the right things are done by our people. How responsible are you, when you yourself were drunk in Cooktown the other Friday when you were supposed to be in charge of the bus? . . .

He then goes on to refer to a number of these things. The document continues:

We are not here to talk about that and what should be done to you is that you should be locked up'. Then he ordered Francis Woibo 'Lock him up! '

He then asked what the charges were, and the policeman said:

Never mind the charges. That will come after. You have to go to gaol first.' Willie Woibo said, 'You deserve to go to gaol because you hit a respected staff member'.

According to the statutory declaration, he had not hit anybody. People can be pushed to the point where they become almost desperate. This is the sort of thing which is being carried out against this man. He goes on for the best part of another page. In order to keep the record straight, although this has not been shown to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Chaney), again because of the limitation on time I seek leave to incorporate the remainder of the document in Hansard.

Leave granted. 77it? document read as follows-

I reminded Willie of the time when he threatened Chris with a knife and not very much had come of that either. I also said that this was going too far and that I wanted my wife who was a witness of the incident to be here and give her side of the story. Willie Woibo Benny McGreen and Francis Woibo insisted that I should be thrown into jail and that my wife should not come here. Benny McGreen stood up angrily and gave the final orders to sergeant Francis *080, 'Just lock him up. That's where he should be'. And with that he just walked off.

Ted Bowen said, 'You can't do these things. Roy is insisting on a proper hearing and charges have to be laid and you should explain to him in a proper way what you want to put him in jail for. As far as I can see what you are trying to do is not right'. By that time my wife had found out about my situation and walked with our two children into the police station. No-one made a move to restrain her. My wife asked Francis, 'What are the charges?' But he replied, 'Don't ask about that, he's got to go to jail first'. Now Willie and Francis Woibo got furious and jumped down my throat saying that I got mixed up with bad company and that they knew who those people were and they were expecting me to get into a mess sooner or later. Willie accused me of having left God and I assured him that he was not the person to judge me in that area. I insisted that I wanted a proper hearing and if I had to be locked up I wanted to be jailed in Cooktown. They refused and said, 'Are you too flash for our jail?' (I believe conditions at the Hope Vale jail are an insult to human dignity) I pointed out to them, 'Where is our democracy? Australia is a free country. But the things done here at Hope Vale are no better than things done in Communist countries. What happens now is not much different from what happened to Henry Bani'. Len Rosendale now spoke up and said, 'You must remember we have the By-laws'. Francis Woibo said, 'If you want to change the By-laws you have to write to Mr Killoran'. My wife said, 'Len, you realize those By-laws are very discriminatory'. He did not seem to disagree but said that we still had to abide by them. Len Rosendale further stated, 'A lot of shit has gone out from here and you have been mixed up with bad influences like Jurgen Peterfeld and Neville Brown. And I have been receiving letters from a commissioner (he could not remember the name) charging me with racial discrimination'. He also mentioned Benny McGreen and the manager receiving similar letters. He said that the best thing he thought that could happen was to remove Jurgen from Hope Vale and that would be for the well being of the people and solve their problems. He accused me of maintaining contacts with Jurgen and thus aggravating the strife at Hope Vale. I said to him that there was no doubt that Jurgen was a good teacher at Hope Vale and he agreed. I also reminded him that he once told me that Jurgen was teaching mathematics very well and that his own son Andrew for whom he had given up hope and whom he thought to be a slow learner in that subject had picked up mathematics very well. I then said, 'You have betrayed Jurgen and your people'. Len still agreed that Jurgen was a good teacher, but he said that Jurgen had to go because he broke the By-laws.

Amongst other things that were said he accused my wife of brainwashing me, to which my wife replied that I was man enough to have my own opinions and that I did not need her to tell me what to think. Then Francis made another grab for me and Ted Bowen defended me again by saying that I should be charged first. My wife asked Francis Woibo, 'Has Collin Roll laid a complaint?' He said, 'No'. And then he qualified this by saying that Collin had left it to the council to make a decision.

Francis Woibo ignored Ted completely and once more went for me. This time he knocked my five year old daughter onto the hard cement floor. She was crying and I picked her up saying, 'Are you trying to kill my daughter?' And he said, You are a terrible father'.

By that time I said, "I can't stand this any more. I am going to get out of here!" And I walked towards the door which was blocked by Soiko Jacko, who said, "You can't go out, this is not finished yet. "

Since my child could not be pacified and my wife was nearly breaking down in tears, the councillors after some further discussion decided to disband the gathering and I walked out of the Police Station together with my wife and children. Before leaving my wife asked once more, "Francis, are you laying charges?" Francis Woibo, sergeant of the Hope Vale police force, said," "No, I am wiping my hands of this. I have nothing more to do with this."

And I hereby make this solemn declaration conscientiously believing the same to be true, and by virtue of the provisions of the "Oaths Act of 1 867- 1 960."

Senator KEEFFE -The statutory declaration is signed by R. Mclvor and witnessed by a Justice of the Peace. I conclude on that note. I think that puts the position as to the serious state of the situation at Hope Vale pretty squarely. I hope that the Minister and his Department will be able to take a greater interest in this deep social problem that has arisen there. There is no agricultural instructor left in an area which is eminently suitable for a major agricultural project.

If this sort of thing is to happen with teachers there, it will create more problems. I understand that the church has not been able to provide all its own teachers from within its own ranks, and there are a number of Department of Education teachers there. I understand- and I believe it to be true- that they cannot be employed there unless they are first of all vetted and approved by the Lutheran Church. There are only two missions left in Queensland- this one and the one at Bloomfield River, which is incorporated in the same church organisation. There is another church organisation which controls Doomadgee. Perhaps one might also in an indirect way include Hammond Island, in the Torres Stait, which is controlled to some extent by the Catholic Church.

A very great debt is owed to these people. I hope that as a result of this discussion today something definite can be done about it and that the Federal Minister will take a serious look through his Department to see how these people can be helped.

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