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Thursday, 30 April 1987
Page: 2353


Mr GAYLER(10.03) —It is a sad, sorry day when we hear the mutterings and mumblings of those opposite on an issue which should be supported by both sides of the House. It should be a bipartisan issue. The underprivileged sector of our country has to listen to the mumblings and mutterings of those opposite, the squattocracy, who do not come into this place to try to mislead the people of Australia; they come in here to lie to them. I say that without any equivocation.

Let me make one thing very clear. The reason the Aboriginal Land (Lake Condah and Framlingham Forest) Bill and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Amendment Bill are before this House-and those opposite, especially those from Victoria, should hide their head in shame-in that they would never have been passed through the Victorian Parliament. Let us make no mistake when we talk about the legislation being referred to this place and are told that it is legally or systematically wrong.

I ask those opposite, if they have the gumption to stand up and be counted: What happened to the legislation in the Legislative Assembly at the second reading stage? The Victorian Opposition and those who want to repress the Aboriginal people did not vote in favour of it but opposed it. That is why it is here, and it is a shame that those opposite do not have the guts or the gumption to stand up and be counted. It is a national disgrace, and I say that without any equivocation.

This legislation gives back something that was taken away-decent rights for the people in these areas. What do we have? We do not have an Opposition that is prepared to stand up and be counted on doing something that is decent for one of the most underprivileged sectors of our community. I do not stand here to patronise those people. Whilst I have not been to Lake Condah or Framlingham Forest, I have had sufficient experience in my part of this nation to indicate that what is happening on the other side of this Parliament-it is evident; it is clear; it is in black and white-is a national disgrace. We have heard a so-called policy. I am a little disappointed that the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Connolly), who wanted to have a go at me in his speech, has disappeared. Maybe he has gone back to slumber in his Sydney law office or to the quietness of his Sydney suburb. Where is he? He brought forward a pathetic-


Mr Cadman —Mr Deputy Speaker, I raise a point of order. The honourable member for Bradfield is temporarily absent from the chamber. He will be back shortly.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Cowan) —I do not think that is a point of order.


Mr GAYLER —It would be great to see him back in the chamber because if he is prepared to face the music as far as his hollow policy on Aboriginal affairs is concerned, let him face it. I challenge him to come into this House and talk about the future prospects, the future ideals, of Aboriginal people. I take no pride in saying that they are underprivileged. Maybe we could have done more than we have done. But what we have done has been positive.

The squattocracy in Victoria said that Aboriginals will not have this little piece of Victoria; they will not have their land rights. The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Holding) has said, with his gumption: `We will fix that up'. If it were not for this Minister, the legislation would still be being kicked around in the Legislative Council, which consists of a nice old bunch of members who are born to the manor. They are a great mob! It is a national disgrace and I take no pride in acknowledging that. It is a sad, sorry state of affairs that those opposite cannot work in a bipartisan way to right the wrongs that exist in this nation, to right the wrongs of the underprivileged about whom we talk.

All we have had from honourable members on the other side is the technicalities of the legislation, that it should not be here. That is great stuff, is it not? That helps the people who are trying to get some justice, some rectification of the wrongs that have occurred over centuries! To say that the legislation should not be before this Parliament helps such people! That is touching stuff. What did the shadow Minister, the honourable member for Bradfield, say? He said the same thing-that technically the legislation should not be here. That is arrant nonsense. Of course it should be here, because the upper House in Victoria was not prepared to give a little, to compromise, to talk to people. That is where the problem lies. If honourable members do not believe me when I say that those in the Upper House in Victoria think that they were born to rule, they should ask them. They are the ones who have forced this issue. I commend our Federal Minister for having the ability, the foresight, the gumption and the resolution to bring the matter before this place. If it were not considered by this Parliament, it would not be considered anywhere. We are talking about 55 hectares in the case of Lake Condah. My goodness! One would expect that the Aboriginals of Victoria were going to take over next week! We are talking about 55 hectares.

I come from an area which is administered by the Queensland Government. If we want to talk about bastardry, I am prepared to put it right on the line. I come from an area of Australia in which at least some recognition is now being given to Aboriginal rights and land rights. But those who are born to rule in Victoria, who rejected this piece of legislation, which is so fair, and so just, acted unconscionably. Let them be judged. Let those spokesmen on the other side of the House be judged on what they say about this legislation. Let them be judged in the upper House when it is considered there, because those who are born to rule will talk about it there as well. I am certain that those in the upper House will take the same line. They will not recognise those reasonable rights that belong to these people who will be the beneficiaries under this legislation.

I ask all people of Australia-not just those who are here-to look very closely at what is said by Opposition members both here and in the Senate, because they will be condemned by their words, actions and deeds. If they had any decency at all-it is totally lacking-they would support the Minister and this piece of legislation. They would not talk about whether it is technically right for it to be considered here or in the Victorian Parliament. After all, it was knocked back there. Let us make no mistake about it. It was knocked back because the Opposition in the Victorian Legislative Assembly voted against it. They will be condemned, as will those who speak against it here. If we cannot do some small things-and I will not patronise the cause-and if we cannot rectify some of the vicious wrongs that have existed in our community for centuries and, more recently, decades, we should be condemned, too. If the shadow spokesperson for Aboriginal Affairs wants to attack this Government's record in relation to matters Aboriginal, let him stand up and be counted. Prior to the Hawke Administration, the record of the previous Government was absolutely appalling. Under the previous Government Aboriginal people were forgotten people.


Mr Humphreys —Disgraceful.


Mr GAYLER —Absolutely disgraceful. I must say that the honourable member for Griffith has been one of my most profound supporters in this regard. Let those on the other side of the House not cast the stone. Let them do something positive about it. It is very unfortunate that we have not had a bipartisan approach to this issue this evening. It is even more unfortunate that those opposite do not have one positive comment to make in this continuing debate.

Debate interrupted.