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Wednesday, 24 October 1973
Page: 1383

Senator WITHERS (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - I direct my question to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and I refer to the report that Mr Dexter has submitted to him. In paragraph 2 of the report Mr Dexter stated:

I have been hampered in its preparation by the nonavailability of the departmental files. These were, by the direction of the then Minister, delivered to his office on 29 August and have not thereafter been available to the Department.

I ask the Minister: What do the files that are missing relate to? Are the files still missing? If they have not been returned, why have they not been returned to the Department? Also, if they have not been returned, does the Minister know why the former Minister has not returned them? Finally, if the files have not been returned, what action has the Minister taken to have them returned?

Senator CAVANAGH (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs) - In reply to a question asked by Senator Laucke last week I said that I had received in my office a 13-page report from Mr Dexter and that as soon as I had prepared a statement I would table the report. That was tabled yesterday and included the reference to which Senator Withers referred. At that period the files were not available. Why they were not available, I do not know. I think Senator Georges said previously that the files were in the hands of the Auditor-General. They were handed over to the Auditor-General. They were brought back to my office late last week and were handed over to the Department today. They were in the office of the Auditor-General.

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