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Wednesday, 16 March 1966

Mr L R Johnson son asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -

1.   Is it a fact that pensions paid under the Social Services Act to Aborigines in the Port Hedland district and other parts of Western Australia are paid through District Welfare Officers?

2.   Do Welfare Officers sometimes retain or withhold pensions or part of pensions due to Aborigines; if so, for what reasons is this done?

3.   Are pensions that have been retained or withheld (a) paid retrospectively, (b) returned to the Department of Social Services or (c) retained by the Department of Native Welfare?

4.   What reasons prevent direct payments being made to Aborigines as is done in the case of nonAboriginal pensioners?

5.   Is there any provision whereby people of European descent are paid pensions through an intermediatory or is this indirect system of payment confined to Aborigines?

6.   Does this practice involve discrimination against Aborigines?

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

1.   Yes, in certain cases.

2.   Only where the pensioner fails, for some reason or other, to collect his pension.

3.   Arrears due are paid when the pensioner calls to collect. In some cases the money is returned to the Department of Social Services and subsequently made available when the pensioner is located.

4.   5 and 6. The Social Services Act provides that where the Director-General of Social Services considers it desirable that payment of the whole or portion of a pension should be made to a person, institution or authority on behalf of the pensioner, he may authorise payment accordingly.

This provision applies generally, and in particular to pensioners in benevolent homes. Its purpose is the protection of the pensioner and it does not involve discrimination against Aborigines. In its application in the case of an Aborigine, the Department of Social Services is guided by the advice of the State Department responsible for Aboriginal Welfare.

Indonesia. (Question No. 1S74.)

Mr Hayden (OXLEY, QUEENSLAND) n asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -

1.   Is he able to confirm the death toll of civilians in Indonesia, variously reported between 100,000 and 300,000, who have been killed in episodes which have followed the abortive coup late last year with which was associated the name of Colonel Untung?

2.   Is there evidence in Australia of alarm and criticisms at this grievous loss of human lives; if so, will he give expression to these feelings on behalf of the Australian people?

3.   Will he make a full statement on the situation in Indonesia from the time of the coup up to the present and indicate the state of Australia's present relations and its attitude to future relations with that country?

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

1.   In January President Sukarno announced that, according to the official Indonesian Fact Finding Mission which was set up to investigate the events after the abortive Communist coup on 30th September last year, the total number killed was 87,000. Other reports have mentioned larger figures, but there is no way open to the Government to confirm or deny definitely any of these reports at present.

2.   Australians are naturally concerned at this suffering and loss of life, lt is the constant hope of the Government that political and social stability will develop in Indonesia so that upheavals of this character will not occur.

3.   I made a statement in the House of Representatives on 10th March in which I spoke about the present state of our relations with Indonesia and the basis on which we would attempt to develop our future relations with that country. I also spoke about Indonesia in a statement I made in the House on 19th October last year shortly after the attempt at a coup.

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