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Thursday, 15 September 1983
Page: 953

Mr HAND(10.57) —I rise tonight for a couple of moments to mention a news report in today's Canberra Times containing a coverage of yesterday's events at the Returned Services League National Congress. I raise these matters as they concern me very deeply. The article states:

The Returned Services League will oppose the granting of special privileges to Aborigines in the Northern Territory and South Australia.

I just wonder what prompts an organisation like the RSL to pass that type of resolution. The article continues:

. . . oppose any attempt by subversive elements to fragment Australia into two nations-black and white . . .

The RSL criticised the use of the Aboriginal flag. To top it off, a gentleman by the name of Mr Geoff McDonald, a former member of the Communist Party of Australia, spoke to the Congress. I think he has been criticised and banned from just about every trade union organisation he has ever been attached to. He claimed that the Aboriginal movement had been infiltrated by communist activists for many years. He cited an article in a communist newspaper of September 1931 as his proof. As chairman of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, I wish the House to take note of the events which occurred yesterday at the RSL National Congress. If an organisation like that is taking notice of a person of the calibre of Geoff McDonald, shame on the RSL. I sincerely hope that the Government will raise-through its officers and the Ministers-with the RSL what prompted it to make or pass such resolutions.

Question resolved in the affirmative.