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Minister supports call for royal commission

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(Ststsrnsnt by Sinister·for Aboriginal Affairs, Senator 3.L.- Cavanagh)

The Sinister for Aboriginal Affairs, Senator Cavanagh, said today it U33 unfortunate that the Western Australian Government did not concede to the request of the U.A. Aboriginal Legal Aid Service for a Royal Commission into the arrest and imprisonment of a large number of Aboriginals at Laverton early this month.

The Minister said reports of the incident conflicted in detail but nevertheless indicated there may have been a miscarriage of justice involving the suffering and humiliation of many innocent people including uomen and children.

He stated that on reports received it would appear the Legal Aid Service had thoroughly checked out Aboriginal statements concerning these arrests and the results justified the most thorough enquiry. The need for some enquiry uas supported by the decision of the U.A. Cabinet to appoint a special magistrate to investigate and report on the matter.

The Legal Aid Service of that State which is the Aboriginal Organisation most aware of what happened is not happy with the Government decision for an enquiry by a lesser authority than a Royal Commission and with uncertain powers.

The Minister stated that any enquiry into the particular incident without a full and complete public enquiry into the whole question of Aboriginal/police relationship in that State would not result in the better relations he had thought the U.A. Government was anxious to achieve.

There should be a Royal Commission appointed to enquire into the whole question of police relationships with Aboriginal communities, pin-pointing the areas where some action to improve relationships are required, whether any altered activities or attitudes are necessary ' and whether any method of.greater co-operation between police and Aboriginal communities is desirable and possible. ■■'··â– 

. · ■ ■ - The Minister said Aboriginals are not generally law breakers or anti-social and respond co-operatively to just treatment. Every effort should be made to obtain such treatment. ; ·

If the appointment of a Magistrate to enquire rather than a wider public Royal Commission uas because of costs the Minister would be prepared, with the consent of the State Government, to make representations to the Australian Special Minister of State for Australian Government funding for a Royal Commission on a joint basis by both Governments.

Senator Cavanagh said he had today written to the Acting . , Premier of'Western Australia offering to approach the Honourable . ■ L.F. Bowen to finance a joint Royal Commission.

CANBERRA, A.C.T. 29 3anuary 1975