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Thursday, 10 March 1966


Mr CLEAVER (Swan) .- I am sure that the quality of the debate this morning has been appreciated, and the unanimity of views on the Bill before us is most noticeable. I support previous speakers who have said that surely this proposal should be put before the people of Australia as the third point in the anticipated referendum. We are greatly indebted to the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) because of the initiative he has shown and we are conscious, too, of the able support given by so many other honorable members.

Some time ago the honorable member for Mackellar printed this measure as a draft bill, with a very simple and clear explanation. I think it was done at his own cost; I doubt whether anybody assisted him. It has been widely distributed and I wish to make it known that as a result, very many people have been in touch with me as an individual member of the Federal Parliament urging their support of the proposition. The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) in his very thought provoking speech, gave the illustration that the measure proposes discrimination for Aborigines rather than discrimination against them. I support him. but 1 point out that it would have to be discrimination for the Aborigines sparingly and wisely used, because at no point do the educated Aborigines, or those with any sense of personal pride, want to see an attitude of condescension towards them. Many Aborigines are not looking for a hand-out. Whilst we want the power to assist them, we do not want foolishly to use a power of condescension.

I believe that fundamentally the Australian people are against discrimination. This Bill is not a move to take away power from the State Governments, but rather to authorise the Commonwealth deliberately and specifically to extend assistance to the Aboriginal people beyond the efforts of the State Governments. 1 believe that the State Governments should come in behind any move of this kind and help us because. unfortunately, there is sensitivity about a referendum. Where there is not only party unanimity in this Parliament but also agreement by the State Governments and a clear understanding of what is our intention, I believe it would help tremendously if the State Governments indicated their support and approval.

I wish in the minute or two remaining to refer to the very helpful material supplied to the honorable member for Mackellar by Mr. Peter Hanks. Mr. Hanks drew attention to the fact that when we get back to the matter of Federal initiative, the appropriation power that is now in the hands of the Commonwealth is not sufficient. He said it is not sufficient that the Government should have power to pass laws regarding grants only and that there is a need to pass laws regulating conduct; for instance, providing for compulsory education or ensuring minimum standards of employment or housing. This is the power that the measure before us would provide.







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