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Wednesday, 17 October 1973
Page: 2249


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! The motion that an extension of time be granted to the honourable member for Gwydir has not been seconded.


Mr Whitlam - I will second the motion if necessary. All I am saying is that for reasons of which honourable members are aware, I have a lot of commitments this afternoon. I will agree to an extension of time being granted if I am permitted to finish my speech before the luncheon suspension.

Question resolved in the affirmative.


Mr HUNT - I thank the House and the Prime Minister for granting this extension of time. Unless the present Minister for Aboriginal Affairs can provide adequate and satisfactory explanation of the allegations made by Senator Georges I will certainly move in this House for the establishment of a royal commission to inquire into the whole ambit of Aboriginal welfare administration. In the light of the serious allegations made by Senator Georges that the whole field of Aboriginal affairs has developed into a disaster area littered with failures, that large sums of money have been expended with questionable results and that other serious developments have taken place, there should be no question of the Prime Minister himself undertaking this initiative. We acknowledge that many of these projects were commenced during the term of the former Government. But this does not mean that the Parliament should allow further failures to develop. Unless the Government can satisfactorily answer the charges that have been made and unless the papers are tabled to the satisfaction of the Parliament, I will give notice to this House in relation to the establishment of a royal commission. It is essential that generous funds be provided to help advance the Aboriginal community, but it is even more important to ensure that those funds are expended to the fullest advantage of the Aboriginal people. The Aboriginal people and the Australian community must have grave doubts as to whether the Australian Government has adequate administrative responsibility and capacity to take over responsibility for Aboriginal advancement in the States as from 1 January. I say this because of a mix-up that occurred with the Victorian Government with respect to housing. On 4 September Mr Dickie announced that the Commonwealth would be taking over the responsibility for Aboriginal housing in Victoria. Yet 22 days later he announced that the Commonwealth Minister had written to him saying that the Commonwealth would not be taking over responsibility, that it would remain the responsibility of the Victorian government. It is one thing to seek powers and to invite the States to transfer the very heavy problem of Aboriginal advancement to the Commonwealth but it is another thing to safeguard the interests of the Aboriginal people by ensuring that we have the necessary administrative machinery to ensure that they progress along a road towards advancement which is long overdue.







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