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Monday, 20 May 1985
Page: 2138

Senator COONEY(3.51) —I move:

That the Senate take note of the paper.

The Central Land Council is made up of Aboriginal people. The Chairman, Vice-Chairman and members of the executive are all Aboriginals. It is a most successful Council, as the schedule set out as table 2 on page 19 of the annual report shows. The Aboriginal people, in the conduct of that Council, have earned and certainly deserve great praise. Having perhaps given less than adequate attribution to the Aboriginals who have run that Council, I will proceed to mention a couple of ways in which the people of European descent have helped that Council.

There is mention in the report of Mr Geoffrey Eames, who was assigned by the Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service to work for the Council when it was set up. Mr Eames has earned great glory, not only in this area but also in the general area of bringing legal services to people who would otherwise not have them available. He was one of a group of lawyers in Victoria who set up the Fitzroy Legal Service, which has served as a model for legal aid since then. Mr Eames was followed in the Territory by Mr Ross Howie who is presently at the Victorian Bar and who made great sacrifices in terms of his career and the financial reward that he would otherwise have obtained from his career had he not gone there. He did what I suggest not only lawyers but also other professional people should do, that is, devote themselves to clients not for the financial return they might receive but for the good they can provide for their clients. He was followed by Mr John Coldrey, who, again, made great sacrifices although, I must say, since returning to the Victorian Bar Mr Coldrey has taken silk and been appointed Director of Public Prosecutions in Victoria, so perhaps the sacrifice he made has been well rewarded.

Other people from the Victorian Bar have made contributions. Mr Michael Dodson, a barrister who has Aboriginal connections in the sense that he was born an Aboriginal, has returned to the Territory after serving at the Victorian Bar with some distinction. Other people, although not directly connected with the Central Land Council, have gone from the Victorian Bar to assist Aboriginals in the Territory. I mention Peter Farris, Mr Hore-Lacey and of course Mr Frank Vincent, QC, who has since been appointed to the Supreme Court of Victoria. In talking of those people from the Victorian Bar, I do not overlook the contributions made by people such as Mr Philip Toyne and Mr Snowdon who are presently working with that Council.

I should like simply to place on record the contribution made by lawyers from the Victorian Bar. Lawyers are often subject to criticism. The Minister for Community Services, Senator Grimes, spoke earlier about what politicians and journalists often have to put up with. Lawyers are sometimes subject to the same sort of criticism and I simply want to acknowledge that one can point to instances which show the contributions that these people make to the community.

Questions resolved in the affirmative.