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Thursday, 18 November 1976
Page: 2844

Mr E G Whitlam (WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I ask the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs a question. I recall that it is 6 months since he announced the formation of a working party to examine the problems of Aboriginal unemployment, including the impact of unemployment benefit payments on Aboriginal communities. I ask: When did the Minister receive the report of the working party? As the problem of Aboriginal unemployment is, in his words, 'especially severe in rural areas', when will the Government be announcing initiatives as a result of the recommendations of the working party?

Mr VINER - I cannot recall at the moment the precise date that I received the working party's report. I shall ascertain it and let the honourable gentleman know. I believe that it was about July.

Since then my colleagues the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, the Minister for Education and the Minister for Social Security and I have met. A submission to the Government is being prepared by the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations. I expect it to be to hand shortly. The matter of the payment of unemployment benefit is one which has particular difficulties. We do not want to put Aborigines in the positon that they must work to get unemployment benefit because, as the honourable gentleman will appreciate, that is really a non-sequitur. What we want to do is to see that money goes into communities which will finance worthwhile projects and can employ those Aborigines who cannot obtain employment at the present time. I expect the submission to go to the Government fairly shortly.

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