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Thursday, 13 October 1983
Page: 1766

Mr IAN CAMERON(5.57) —I commence by referring to the remarks made by the honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Hand). Money alone will not solve the Aboriginal problem. Most socialists seem to think that it will. This Australian Labor Party Government certainly has that idea. The honourable member skites about the extra funds that have been allocated to Aboriginal projects. I am very proud to be a member of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs. I take a keen interest in it. The electorate of Maranoa covers the bottom third of Queensland, and I have quite a number of people of Aboriginal descent in my electorate.

Mr Robert Brown —They all vote Labor.

Mr IAN CAMERON —Unfortunately they do not vote because most of them are not on the electoral roll. I notice that the Labor Party will establish mobile polling booths to try to get Aboriginals to vote. Labor is hoping for their votes. I can assure the Government that that will not happen. Most Aborigines are not enrolled. I point out to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Holding) that it is not compulsory for all Aborigines to vote for members of the National Aboriginal Conference. It should be compulsory for all Aborigines to vote for that Conference. Surely if it is good enough for it to be compulsory for them to vote for me as their representative in this Parliament, they should be compelled to vote for their own representatives. The Minister, in his usual waterside fashion, raved and ranted about--

Honourable members-Ha, ha!

Mr IAN CAMERON —The Minister is the member for Melbourne Ports. As a poor old bushman I guess that has something to do with the Melbourne waterside. He raved and ranted and spent at least half an hour of our time saying absolutely nothing . These estimates are very important. We are allocating $330m of Australian taxpayers' funds to 72,215 Aborigines over the age of 20 years. The 1981 census figures reveal that there are a total of 159,897 people of Aboriginal descent in Australia. Roughly 75,000 of them would be over 20 or of voting age. I always use this figure because that is the number of people who vote for me in Maranoa.

We are spending today roughly half a billion dollars on Aborigines in one electorate in Australia. We Federal parliamentarians have allocated $330m to them. Queensland is the only State in Australia that has a separate ministry for Aboriginal Affairs. The people of Queensland spend $50m a year on Aborigines in that State. This increases the overall amount that all Australians are spending on Aborigines. I include amongst those spending this money Aborigines because some of them pay tax. Actually, some of them receive royalties. This Federal Government is paying $14m in royalties to Aborigines in the Northern Territory. I have spoken out very strongly. I believe that all these handouts should be means tested. If one gets down on the ground and talks to these people one finds that most of them think the same way. People of the Aboriginal race want to share things amongst themselves and with other people. They do not want to be treated as people with a separate identity. That is the way in which we are treating them now. We are treating them as a separate race of people. They do not want to be treated in that way; they want to be treated as a part of the whole Australian community. Therefore, I believe that any handouts that are available to them ought to be means tested. We have a problem starting right from the time Aborigines go to kindergarten. They have special grants for education and sport. We are completely segregating them. Of course, Aborigines in the Northern Territory have special land rights.

I assure the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs that while the National Party is in office in Queensland-the National Party will stay in office there after 22 October-we will not be implementing the type of land rights legislation that previous governments including those of which I was a supporter, established in the Northern Territory. We are totally opposed to separate development and we believe in--

Mr Reeves —You are opposed to land rights, too.

Mr IAN CAMERON —No, we are not. We believe in assimilated development. There are four tiers of government: Commonwealth, State, local and Aboriginal. There has been a tremendous increase in the Budget allocation to the National Aboriginal Conference. It has practically doubled. We taxpayers of Australia are now spending over $7m to put 27 candidates into this Conference. Sugar Ray Robinson, who is a part Negro, represents the Aborigines in my electorate. At a guess Aborigines in my electorate total 3,000 to 4,000.

But look at what we have in the estimates. I had a go at Malcolm Fraser when he was the Prime Minister. I said: 'What about a telex machine in my electorate?' We see in the estimates a provision for telex machines for all Conference members to meet increased charges, et cetera. This means that all members of the National Aboriginal Conference will get telex machines, all State offices will get word processors and all Conference members will be supplied with a motor vehicle. There is a provision of $360,000 in the estimates for motor vehicles for members of the Conference. If the Minister expects Aborigines to become self -sufficient and look after themselves-surely it ought to be good enough for a member of this Conference, who is paid a salary of $27,000-it could even be more but it is at least $27,000--

Mr Hand —Mr Chairman, I take a point of order. Given that the honourable member is undermining and criticising his Party's program, should not the shadow Minister be present in the chamber to hear this?

The CHAIRMAN —Order! There is no point of order.

Mr IAN CAMERON —There is an allocation in the estimates of $360,000 for motor cars for these members. People who are on a salary of approximately $30,000 and looking after 2,000 to 3,000 constituents ought to be able to buy their own motor cars. Taxpayers should not have to supply these people with motor cars. People in this place will get up and argue that, if it is good enough for Aborigines to have motor cars, telexes and vocadex machines, it is good enough for members in the House of Representatives to have the same sorts of things. I do not believe that that is the sort of aid and support that those people want or need. I think they ought at least to be self-sufficient and in a position to purchase their own motor cars. Surely they can do that on $30,000 a year.

I mention also that the honourable member for Grey (Mr O'Neil) and I visited Mimili. This Government is allocating more funds for health in that area. I do not believe that the Commonwealth Government ought to get into the health area. That is a State matter and that is the way it should stay. The Government is spending thousands of dollars on health programs in that area; yet the dogs there are the most disease ridden things that one could ever see. It always amazes me that we spend $20m or $30m a year on eradicating brucellosis in cattle ; yet the dogs that live with the Aborigines are disease ridden. I cannot see how we can ever improve the health of Aborigines unless we replace their dogs. I know that honourable members would be against the killing of these dogs but surely to goodness we could bring a fresh lot of dogs into Mimili? Eight hundred and one thousand dollars has been allocated to improving the health of these people in this part of South Australia. Our Committee is also conducting a special health inquiry into asbestos mining at Baryulgil. I look forward to the outcome of that inquiry.

The Budget allocation for Aboriginal legal aid has increased. I think this is a great pity because this is one of those things about which we should not skite. As time goes on, instead of legal aid becoming less, instead of us improving the problems of these people so that they do not have to go to the socialist lawyers , the situation becomes worse. The amount of funds needed to help these people grows with every Budget allocation.

Mr Robert Brown —You are not doing it in Queensland.

Mr IAN CAMERON —That is not true. I would like to refer to some of the problems in the Budget allocations for my own electorate. We have an allocation of $80 000 to set up an Aboriginal museum in the Carnarvon Gorge area. Although most of those honourable members from the south who take an interest in Aborigines do not think Queenslanders can co-operate with Aborigines, land holders in that area are co-operating with them. It is intended that a museum be set up in that area as a part of the Bicentenary program. The cost of the whole concept is estimated to be $1.3m. Honourable members might remember that there was quite a controversy about a person there who had some relics, a fellow called Peter Keegan. He and another chap, Graham Walsh, an honorary ranger in that area, are both prepared to help the Aboriginal people. Sugar Ray Robinson and some of his boys, for example Steve Man, who is the State Chairman, have talked with these people. The State Government too will help. The State puts in half of the funds. The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs is really down on Queensland the whole time. But in all my travels around Australia with the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs I still have not seen conditions in any other State that compare with those in Queensland overall.

The CHAIRMAN —Order! The honourable member's time has expired.