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Tuesday, 29 November 1938


Mr MAKIN (Hindmarsh) (12:18 PM) . - I desire to refer briefly to two aspects of the administration of the territories under the Government's control, one of which relates to the Mandated Territory of New Guinea, and the other to the Northern Territory. Residents in New Guinea are very much concerned at the unwarranted delay that is taking place in the construction of a road from Wau to Salamaua. The residents interested believe that the Government should show more sympathetic consideration and provide transport at rates more reasonable than those at present ruling. It will take eighteen months to construct a road by the shortest route from Wau to Salamaua, and 1 understand that the Prime Minister has been asked to indicate immediately the Government's willingness to put the work in hand. I trust that the representations will be treated as urgent, and that a decision will be announced as early as possible.


Mr Harrison - Surveyors are at present engaged on that work.


Mr MAKIN - I shall be glad if the Assistant Minister will inform me, by letter if necessary, of the actual position in that respect.

I am surprised that the honorable member for the Northern Territory should have refrained from mentioning the aborigines in his area. Their problem is most pressing.


Mr Blain - I did not have sufficient time.


Mr MAKIN - The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) asked if the honorable member had any suggestions to make concerning these unfortunate people.


Mr Blain - I believe in looking after the white man first.


Mr MAKIN - The honorable member had sufficient time to state his views on the subject. I can quite understand his silence - the aborigines have no votes. If they had he would not need to be urged to advocate the adoption of humanitarian methods in dealing with them. After the revelations that have heen made recently to this House and to the country on matters affecting the aborigines, we have a right to expect a pronouncement of government policy on the subject in the near future. We cannot, as a civilized community, allow a continuation of abuses that have occurred during the last year or two in connexion with these unfortunate people. If the Government does not remedy the complaints that have been made it will deserve and receive the severest condemnation of every person who is at all interested in the welfare of these people, and deplores the neglect of them in past years.


Mr Forde - If they had votes, the Government would do something for them !


Mr MAKIN - There can be no doubt about that. Our treatment of the aborigines shows a very poor appreciation of our obligation to native races. Time will not permit me to discuss this subject as fully as it should be discussed; but I call, in a most emphatic way, for a pronouncement of government policy upon it. The rights, material welfare and health of these unfortunate people should be of primary concern to the Government, and I hope that the Minister for the Interior, in his reply, will give an assurance that the Government intends to make more effective provision in the future than it has made in the past for the welfare of the aborigines.







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