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Thursday, 5 April 1973
Page: 1176

Mr KERIN (Macarthur) - I have much pleasure in supporting the motion for the appointment of a joint committee on the Northern Territory. I think the honourable member for Farrer (Mr Fairbairn) can be assured that his experience with the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs to which he referred will not occur again. I am quite sure that the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) will be given a far greater forum for the electorate he represents than he has ever had. There seems to be a large measure of unanimity between the parties in this House on this matter. This augurs well for the deliberations of the Committee. Despite this, I have decided, with great originality, to give a lecture sub-titled 'The Sins of the Past Government', for a short time anyhow. I have observed that this theme is a great favourite in this House and has many allusions to a continuing Victorian melodrama. We are, of course, provided with so much ammunition on this side, as the actions and thinking of the previous Government was indeed Victorian - and I do not refer to the dominance of the Liberal Party by members from the State of Victoria. The Northern Territory will be well served by this Government. For the first time it has a full-time member.

Mr Calder - What are you talking about?

Mr KERIN - I am sorry. I meant to say 'a full-time Minister'.

Mr Calder - He is not a full-time Minister; he is part-time.

Mr KERIN - I will concede that he is a half-time Minister. It will make a lot of difference to the people of the Northern Territory to have a Minister who goes to the Territory to talk to them. It is a very large area. In his recent foray over a period of days the Minister met many people. This was the first time they were met by a Minister - a half-time Minister. The only Ministers I associate with the past Government's duration of office are those Ministers and priests in the many religious orders who care for and educate so many of the Northern Territory Aboriginal population. Of the Northern Territory population of 72,000 about 22,000 are Aboriginals. The way the previous Government avoided its responsibility and acted to back overseas owners in the exploitation of these people will no longer continue because this Government also has a Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Bryant). The Minister for Northern Development (Dr Patterson) will be increasingly concerned with development projects in the Northern Territory. We all trust that the only future initiatives in development will not be made on behalf of those who are after a fast dollar. I need refer only to the submission made by Mr J. N. Kelly, a pastoral consultant, to the Senate Select Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control on 7th August last year. Mr Kelly strongly criticised ownership of Northern Territory cattle stations in his submission to that Committee. In referring to pasture improvement he said that the record was not good.

Mr Kelly - Mr Deputy Speaker, I hesitate to do this to a new member whom I respect but I am frightened that he is spoiling his own reputation in the House. My point of order is that he is not dealing with the matter before the Chair. If he will take some fatherly advice from me I think it would be far better if he were to confine his remarks to the matter before the Chair.

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