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Thursday, 6 December 1973
Page: 2537


Senator POYSER (VICTORIA) - My question is directed to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. I refer the Minister to the report in this morning's edition of the Melbourne 'Sun' that the Federal Government will take over responsibility for Victorian

Aboriginal affairs from 1 January 1974. Can the Minister advise the Senate whether this report is correct? If it is, will he give details of the current arrangements with the Victorian Government on the administration of Aboriginal affairs in that State?


Senator CAVANAGH (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs) -I am very much concerned at the article which appears on page 27 of this morning's 'Sun' under the big headline Native control to go federal', and which is spread over 3 columns. The article is accompanied by a photo of Mr Dickie, the Victorian Minister of Community Welfare. The article bears a Canberra dateline and attributes to Senator Cavanagh a statement that there will be a takeover next January. The report is completely untrue. No such statement emanated from my office. I made no statement to any member of the Press yesterday on any question other than the question of turtles. There is no agreement to take over as from 1 January.

A meeting was held between my predecessor and Mr Dickie on 4 September. There was general agreement that the Australian Government should have a greater say in planning and policy on( Aboriginal affairs. It was decided that the Victorian and Australian Government departments should confer. As recently as this week they have been conferring. We have an amicable relationship. There is no agreement to take over any policy in Victoria. This article has done untold damage to the smooth relationship that exists. I understand that Mr Dickie will be making a statement today. I have written to you, Mr President, to see whether the privilege afforded to the Press Gallery should be extended to those who make such false and damaging statements. I will confer with the Attorney-General today to see whether there is any means of legal redress against this false, malicious report.


The PRESIDENT - Senator Cavanagh,you have made reference to me. I will take the matter under consideration. You have done me the kindness of sending me a letter informing me of this matter. I shall advise you and the Senate at a later hour of this day.







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