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Wednesday, 17 November 1976


Mr Les Johnson (HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I intend to move the motion standing in my name which has the effect of amending sub-clause 2 of clause 7, which reads:

(   1 ) The Minister shall, as soon as practicable after 30 June in each year, cause to be laid before each House of the Parliament a report on the operation of this Act during the year ending on that date.

(2)   A report referred to in sub-section ( 1 ) shall include a statement setting out the amount paid under this Act to each State during the year to which the report relates.

(3)   For the purposes of this section, the period commencing on the date of commencement of this Act and ending on 30 June 1977 shall be deemed to be a year.

The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Viner) has had a great day dropping things from great heights. He has been able to read to honourable member's carefully prepared and nurtured briefings which he has received from his Department. He reads them quite well. However, as he demonstrated just a short time ago he lacks the capacity to think on his feet. He was unable to find an answer for the last proposition I put to him. I hope he will be able to find an answer to the simple proposition I put to him now because it is quite elementary and well within his capacities. It is simply to this effect. Since the Minister has now adopted, if not cannibalised, proposals which I put to the Parliament in 1975 in respect of the States Grants (Aboriginal Assistance) Bill following receipt of advice from the AuditorGeneral in his special report of March 1974, it is now proposed to have continuing legislative authority by which funds will be made available to the States for the purpose of implementing the program of assistance to Aboriginal people.

This new development, this proposal for continuing legislation will obviate the need for similar legislation to be brought down on a periodic annual basis. The Minister is copying the proposal which I previously made that a report containing certain recommendations should be placed before the Parliament after 30 June each year. In sub-clause 2 of clause 7 references is made to the intention that the report shall include a statement setting out the amount paid to each State during the year to which the report relates. The Opposition is not antagonistic to that proposition. Obviously I should not be antagonistic to it since I breathed life into the concept when I was the Minister. But, after all, the Parliament will forego an annual opportunity of debating Aboriginal affairs. The Opposition contends that it might be reasonable that the Parliament might be treated to the consideration of being informed as to why these amounts were paid. The amendment is simply to that effect. I therefore move:

At the end of sub-clause (2) add: and the purposes for which the amount was paid.

If the amendment is adopted, sub-clause (2) of clause 7 will read:

A report referred to in sub-section ( 1 ) shall include a statement setting out the amount paid under this Act to each State during the year to which the report relates and the purposes for which the amount was paid.

I put it to the Minister that the Parliament might be well and truly entitled to have information to that effect. I hope that the Minister will not be able to find any good reasons why this amendment should not be agreed to.







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