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Friday, 15 June 1984
Page: 3202

Senator GRIMES (Minister for Social Security)(9.04) —I suppose I should reply briefly to the extraordinary outburst. I am one of those people who are naive enough to believe that in 1967 we had a referendum in this country which gave the Commonwealth the power to legislate about Aborigines. I would have thought that this legislation, particularly clause 7 (1) as Senator Macklin pointed out, provided the States produced their own legislation in line with it, would be acceptable. I thought that is what Mr Wilson was about in Western Australia. I thought that is what everybody else was about.

Senator Crichton-Browne —If he does not?

Senator GRIMES —If he does not the 1967 referendum situation applies and we have the right to legislate in this area. That is what we are doing. Senator Crichton -Browne might not have liked it. He may have voted the other way in 1967. But that happens to be the constitutional situation in this country. We can argue all night about whether the 1967 referendum should have been passed, but it was passed. I point out to Senator Crichton-Browne that clause 6 is a standard clause in almost every piece of Commonwealth legislation.

Senator Crichton-Browne —Labor Party legislation.

Senator GRIMES —There is nothing Labor Party about it. It is in any Commonwealth legislation. If Senator Crichton-Browne wants to argue the semantics and indulge in the mental gymnastics he has indulged in tonight because he does not agree that the 1967 referendum should have been passed he may do so, but I suggest that he is wasting the time of the Senate. This has nothing to do with centralised government, it has nothing to do with the Franklin dam case. This Government has had the constitutional powers to legislate in this area since 1967. We have done so and we will do so. If the States co-operate we have no desire to overrule State legislation.

Clauses agreed to.