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Wednesday, 17 November 1976
Page: 2808


Mr INNES -You tell them they are not telling the truth.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! I would suggest to the honourable member -

Mr Calder - When were you last there?

Mr INNES -I was there this year.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! I suggest to the honourable member for Melbourne that he should not ask the honourable member for the Northern Territory to comment on his speech at the moment when I have just asked that there be no interjections.

Mr INNES - Let me just say that as a general principle I believe that where possible preservation of such an important part of our heritage as our unique wildlife should be the responsibility of the Australian Government. Especially should this be the case in this instance, though not because Aboriginal hunting threatens species with extinction. The Aborigines are dependent on meat obtained from hunting. One study found that, between May 1974 and March 1975, 60 to 70 per cent of the meat diet came from hunting.

Moreover, many eminent conservationists, including senior officers of the Division of Wildlife Research of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, have affirmed that Aboriginal hunting poses no threat to the survival of native species, although introduced animals such as foxes, camels and rabbits do, and overstocking by pastoralists does. Between them these examples of the white man 's stupidity- some, unfortunately, are contemporary examples- have driven many species to extinction. Moreover, the reason why modern weapons and vehicles are frequently used for hunting is that in many cases the old hunting skills tragically have been lost. To tell Aborigines to hunt on foot with traditional weapons is therefore ludicrous. It is like dropping a batch of members of this House- God bless them- in the outback, arming them with nulla-nullas and telling them to go off and catch some dinner. Yet this is precisely what the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly is proposing to do. Honourable members opposite would starve to death. They have never done a day's work in their fife.

Time is short. This Bill has many enormous implications. I would Uke to go on and talk about the anti-social greed of the grasping mining com- panies whose record in relation to Aboriginal and rights is a shabby one indeed. I would Uke to have had the opportunity to say something in depth about the emasculation of the land councils. In connection with the latter, I ask the Government to restore the powers of the land councils and land commissioners, as recommended by the Woodward Commission and as previously operated under the Labor Government. I will finish on this point: This is a most important piece of legislation. What I have not covered in this speech in the second reading debate I certainly will take the time to talk about in the Committee stage. I hope that we will have the necessary time to examine what these amendments really mean. If they run true to form they will finish up as a sleight-of-hand trick, Uke the rest of this Government's legislation. I also hope that in this one instance the Government does not become confused and run riot with the crippling ideological grip of its doctrine federalism. I hope that the Government allows the Federal Parliament to take into account the problems of the Aboriginal people and that it has enough guts to make the appropriate decisions to protect them.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order!The honourable member's time has expired.

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