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Wednesday, 3 May 1961


Mr CHANEY (Perth) .- I think it is rather wrong of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) to get up in the committee and assume that he is putting a case for the Opposition because Opposition members alone believe that the aborigines should get a vote. The proceedings are not being broadcast, but the people can read in " Hansard " what the honorable member has said. I wish to point out, first, that the Government has stated that it will appoint a select committee of this Parliament to investigate this matter of a vote for aborigines.


Mr Whitlam - The Government has not even chosen its members for the committee.


Mr CHANEY - Why did the Deputy Leader of the Opposition agree in the House to the appointment of that select committee? Why has the Opposition chosen three members to sit on it? The Opposition has accepted the terms of reference of the select committee. What will it achieve by this proposed amendment? Absolutely nothing! The Opposition seems to think that by this move it will win plaudits all over the world. Do not be so ridiculous in your assumption, for heaven's sake! You will do nothing of the sort.

The Deputy Leader of the Opposition quoted one paragraph from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and said that because Australia was a signatory to that declaration, we must accept the Opposition's amendment. I suggest that the honorable member read out the whole Declaration of Human Rights. He would then see that we have solemnly declared that we are behind this declaration or this part of it. The Opposition would find itself slipping up on that point, so I do not think that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is entitled to use that argument.

I think we will reject the proposed amendment for the simple reason that the Government has stated that a select committee will be appointed to investigate this matter. The Opposition should realize that many supporters of the Government have studied this problem and understand the difficulties. Perhaps the select committee will be able to unravel the problem and report back to the Parliament. In the circumstances, it is a waste of time to discuss the amendment







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