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Tuesday, 2 June 1970

Mr WENTWORTH (MACKELLAR, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Social Services) - I can assure the honourable member and the House that the transaction of which he speaks was discussed fully with the authorities of the Queensland Government and that this Government and the Queensland authorities were acting together in regard to it. I want to make it clear also that the actual application of these moneys is, and I hope will continue to be, decided very largely by the Aboriginal people themselves. We would hope as far as possible not to interfere with the autonomy of these organisations any more than we interfere with the autonomy of sheltered workshops or aged persons homes. Although the Aboriginal people themselves at this moment may not be entirely capable of taking charge of all their affairs, nevertheless as soon as possible and to the greatest extent we want them to have the decisions about their own affairs in their own hands. We shall work towards that objective.

In regard to the second part of the question asked by the honourable member, he may recall that the Prime Minister in his policy speech said that, in the lifetime of this Parliament, we propose to see that discriminatory legislation adverse to Aboriginals is brought to an end - and I think that I can quote his exact words - on both the Federal and State levels'. Recently, at a meeting of State Ministers in charge of Aboriginal affairs with the Commonwealth, which occurred in Sydney towards the end of March, this matter was brought up. It was agreed at that meeting that bilateral conversations should take place between the Commonwealth and each one of the States concerned. I have little doubt that within the lifetime of this Parliament and in exact accordance with the promise made by the Prime Minister in his policy speech the end which we ali want to see achieved will be achieved. I hope that honourable members and those people outside this House who are concerned in this matter will see the desirability from the Aboriginal's point of view of bringing these things, about, without what I might call any kind of confrontation and by means of co-operation and consultation with the utmost goodwill between the 2 governments concerned.

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