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Friday, 16 August 1974
Page: 1064


Senator KEEFFE (QUEENSLAND) - I preface my question, which is directed to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, by advising him that when a home was burnt out on Palm Island recently the local fire brigade vehicle was rendered less than effective when it was driven past the water connection and could not be reversed because of mechanical defects caused by faulty maintenance under white management. Will the Minister apply pressure to the Queensland Department of Aboriginal and Island Affairs to ensure that that Department sets up a proper apprenticeship training program for Aborigines on all Queensland reserves? Will he consult his colleague the Minister for Labor and Immigration with a view to instituting a properly planned program of adult retraining at award wages? Will he also apply pressure to Queensland authorities to ensure that in the meantime all workers on reserves receive a rate which is well above the starvation rate currently being paid?


Senator CAVANAGH - I was unacquainted with the happenings in relation to the fire engine at the time of the fire. My Department is in close consultation with the various areas in order to get apprenticeship systems operating in Aboriginal communities. The Department of Labor and Immigration now has a special training subsidy for Aboriginal employees who wish to increase their skills or who seek trade occupations. The problem of adult award wages for Aborigines in Queensland is one for the State to solve. As is known, the Commonwealth, in the areas in which it has jurisdiction, has abolished the training allowance. Today it pays award wages to all employees on settlements. In Queensland Aboriginal employees under State awards still have a training allowance, which is not condoned by our Government. I have refered to the Parliamentary Counsel the question of whether we can introduce legislation to overcome discrimination in Queensland. I will take up with him whether we can pay a differential wage to Aborigines to bring their wages up to the wages paid to other inhabitants of Queensland. To my mind, the present situation is well within the ambit of discrimination.







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