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Wednesday, 10 November 1976
Page: 2516

Mr CALDER (NORTHERN TERRITORY) -Has the attention of the Minister for the Northern Territory been drawn to a statement, reported in the media, attributed to Major-General Stretton and asserting that, of a total of $ 15m raised for the victims of Darwin's cyclone Tracy, about $7m has not been accounted for? Can the Minister indicate whether the statement could be true?

Mr ADERMANN (FISHER, QUEENSLAND) (Minister Assisting the Minister for National Resources) - I have seen some of the media reports of statements attributed to General Stretton. Of course we all pay tribute to the magnificent role performed by him in the aftermath of cyclone Tracy. After cyclone Tracy many donations were made to provide relief for the stricken people of Darwin. Of the funds provided, more than $8m was received by the Darwin Cyclone Tracy Relief Trust and disbursed by it. The trust fund was established in early 1975 before we were the Government. In accordance with the trust deed, since that date regular monthly reports and financial statements have been tabled in the Parliament. I recently tabled reports for the months of February to June 1 976. That trust account is now being wound up. It will be subject to audit and the final report will be tabled in this Parliament.

Other amounts paid by groups to other groups in Darwin may total $7m, or whatever figure it was that General Stretton claimed. These amounts did not go through the Trust. Accountability for them lies outside the Trust and the Government and with those parties which handed the money over to local groups. It is known, for example, that Herald and Weekly Times Ltd gave about $lm to the Salvation Army, Red Cross received a large amount, and other organisations such as Rotary, Lions, and the Returned Services League dealt through their own organisations. I believe that that is the answer to General Stretton 's query. We do not look for mistakes or try to pinpoint mistakes that were made at the time of cyclone Tracy. The people of Darwin and the people of the rest of Australia rallied magnificently in an emergency. The thing we must do is learn from those mistakes. That was the first time Australia was confronted with a disaster of this size.

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