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Tuesday, 9 April 1957


Mr Bryant t asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -

1.   Are any employees of the departments which he administers stationed or working in areas in central and Western Australia, including aboriginal reservations, which the inhabitants regard as tribal territory?

2.   What steps does the department take to ensure that their activities have no detrimental effect on the aboriginals' way of life?

3.   Have any areas of aboriginal reserves been taken over by the department for Commonwealth purposes?

4.   If so, what areas have been taken over, and what measures have been taken to compensate the inhabitants?


Mr Fairhall - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: -

1.   Six meteorological observers and three officers of the Department of Works are stationed within the aboriginal reserve at Giles, near the Rawlinson Range, in Western Australia.

2.   Care is taken to ensure that all Commonwealth officers comply strictly with all requirements, including those of character, of the State governments concerning native welfare. Further, the interests of the aborinines are watched by a selected native patrol officer who has been seconded from the Native Welfare Department of Western Australia and is employed with the meteorological staff at Giles. 3 and 4. The meteorological station occupies an area of500 yards by 300 yards of the aboriginal reserve. The question of compensation does not arise as there has been no interference with the tribal way of life which is nomadic. The station does not intrude on any tribal watering or sacred place.


Mr Bryant t asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -

1.   Is any Army personnel stationed in areas in central and Western Australia, including aboriginal reservations, which the inhabitants might regard as their tribal territory?

2.   What steps does the Army take to supervise the activities of its personnel so that no interference with tribal customs occurs?

3.   Does the department take any steps to compensate the aboriginal population for the disturbance of their way of life, if such occurs?

4.   If so, what are the measures taken?


Mr Cramer - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: -

1.   Personnel of the Australian Services Task Force (Army Component) at Maralinga may come within this category. 2, 3 and 4. These personnel units operate under the administrative control and direction of the Department of Supply and conform to the directives of that department regarding all matters affecting the aboriginal population and tribal customs. Further details in this regard are being supplied by my colleague, the Minister for Supply, in reply to the separate question addressed to him by the honorable member.

Army Eviction at Port Kembla.


Mr Kearney (CUNNINGHAM, NEW SOUTH WALES) y asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -

1.   Did an ex-serviceman and former prisoner of war, with his wife and four young children, occupy a disused Army hut at Port Kembla during the past three years because they could not obtain normal housing accommodation in the district?

2.   Was this family evicted on 28th February as a result of action taken by the Department of the Interior, and were you so advised?

3.   Were arrangements made through you whereby members of the Regular Army were called upon, and did they smash the hut shortly after the eviction of the family?

4.   Is the use of the Army for such a purpose part of their normal duty?

5.   If so, is it intended to use the Army to give effect to the policy of the Government of evicting ex-servicemen and their families?

6.   Is it a fact, as a consequence of the smashing of the hut, and because of the serious lack of housing accommodation in the electoral division of Cunningham, rendering it impossible for many families to rent houses, two exservicemen, together with their wives and their nine young children, are forced to live in another old Army hut?


Mr Cramer - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: -

1.   The family evicted from an army hut at Port Kembla on 28th February, as a result of court action, had been unauthorized occupants of the premises. This was one of a number of familes which had since 1946 squatted in disused army huts. Efforts had been made over a long period to induce the squatters to vacate the premises and, as each family vacated, the huts were demolished to prevent occupation by other quarters.

2.   The eviction action was taken by the Department of the Interior and the Army was aware of what was being done.

3.   Following the eviction of the family and the refusal of the Department of Works employees to demolish the hut, which was Army property, Head-quarters, Eastern Command, at the request of the Department of Works, gave authority for its demolition by Army personnel.

4.   No.

5.   This is not Government policy.

6.   The squatters in the remaining hut were to have been evicted the same day. However, the court granted a stay of proceedings when the occupant tendered a doctor's certificate to the sheriff. The evicted family then moved in and shared this hut. On 8th March, the remaining squatter agreed to vacate the hut within one month and lodged a guarantee of £20 as an act of good faith. Should the hut be vacated within this period, this amount is to be considered full payment for the building, which is then to be demolished and removed from the site at the occupant's expense.







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