Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 14 November 1973

Senator LITTLE (Victoria) -I rise to speak on the matter raised by Senator Keeffe as I was one of the senators who accompanied him to Lockhart River, Bamaga, Weipa, Iron Range which I understand is located near Lockhart River, and to Rockhampton. The Senate Standing Committee on Social Environment visited all these places in one week. The Committee consisted of Senator Keeffe, as Chairman, Senator Bonner and myself. We were accompanied by the secretary and the assistant-secretary of the Committee. According to my diary the Committee arrived as Lockhart River on Tuesday 30 October. If my memory serves me correctly when we arrived we were met by the then manager of the reservation who was seeing his wife and child off for Sydney. I had the impression that they were going to Sydney on leave although I understood that the manager was not going back to that area. Statements were made in the Queensland Parliament about the visit of the Committee to the Lockhart River area on 30 October. Nothing occurred on that day that could have in any way incited anybody to any acts of violence or anything else against the managers of the reserve. Nothing occurred that would have caused anybody to resign. Feelings were most friendly and co-operation was excellent as it was throughout the whole visit. As a matter of fact, the only people who were entitled to be short-tempered at all were members of the staff of the Committee, although they may have been responsible to some degree for this because the program they set us meant that we often started at 6 o'clock in the morning and finished up still interviewing Aborigines and talking to people sometimes as late as II o 'clock at night. It was a week of intensive work for the Committee.

On all the occasions when I have accompanied Senator Keeffe anywhere among the Aboriginal people he has behaved himself with the utmost decorum and has very properly represented this Senate and the Committee. He and I may not agree completely on all attitudes and aspects of the problem as we see it. I do not associate myself with his opinions and the conclusions that he has arrived at on different issues. I feel that it is the duty of Senate committees to find out information and not to commit itself to drawing conclusions as it may appear that the Committee is presenting itself as being already prejudiced in particular areas. I denounce as completely untrue any suggestion that Senator Keeffe acted in any way without complete propriety and decorum when I was with him on Tuesday 30 October when we visited Lockhart River, on any occasion at any of the areas that we visited during that week or on any other occasion when the Senate Committee on Social Environment has conducted its investigations. In that regard I support what Senator Keeffe has said to the Senate tonight.

Suggest corrections