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Tuesday, 9 November 1976
Page: 2440

Mr SPEAKER -Is leave granted? There being no objection leave is granted.

Mr VINER - As honourable members will recall the committee of inquiry, headed by Dr L. R. Hiatt, was set up by the Government in April this year. The report was presented to me last Thursday 4 November. The Government has not yet considered the report but will do so at an early date. I take the opportunity now to indicate to the House the major recommendations and observations of the Committee.

The report recommends the establishment of a statutory Commission for Aboriginal Development by 1980 to function as an advisory body to the Minister with the Secretary of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs as its Chairman. In addition, the Commission would comprise 9 Aboriginal or Torres Strait Island members, five of whom would be delegates from a reformed National Aboriginal Consultative Committee to be known as the 'National Aboriginal Congress. '

In the meantime, the report proposes the setting up of an interim commission for aboriginal development. The report concluded that the NACC had not functioned as a consultative committee and to that extent had not been effective in providing advice to Government on policies and programs in Aboriginal affairs. Further, the great majority of Aboriginals knew practically nothing of the formal activities of the NACC and were thus in no position to judge whether it had represented their opinions adequately to the Government or not.

The report recommends, however, that the body should continue its existence with certain changes to its composition, procedures and functions. These would include: greater representation for tribal people in South Australia, Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland through an increase in the number of electorates from 41 to 46 and a redistribution in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania; plenary sessions of the NACC be held only once a year with State branch and National Executive meetings 4 times a year; the next elections for the NACC be held during the northern dry season of 1977 for a term of 3 years; official recognition being given to the appropriate role of an NACC member as being that of the politician; and funds and staff be provided for the NACC for the production of a quarterly newsletter and that consideration be given to community radio, film, and video as means of improving communications between the NACC and the Aboriginal people.

Honourable members are assured that the recommendations contained in the report will be given careful consideration by the Government

The members of the Committee comprised Dr L. R. Hiatt, Mr M. Luther, Miss L. O'Donoghue and Mr J. Stanley. Miss O'Donoghue, Mr Stanley and Mr Luther are all Aboriginals. Mr Stanley is President and Acting Secretary of the NACC. Miss O'Donoghue is a former Director of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs in South Australia. Mr Luther is a community adviser to the Hooker Creek community in the Northern Territory. Dr Hiatt, who chaired the committee of inquiry, is a reader in Anthropology at Sydney University and Chairman of the Institute of Aboriginal Studies. I wish to compliment all members of the Committee for the report they have presented to me. It is an invaluable document in the history of Government consideration of Aboriginal affairs and particularly the type of representative or advisory Aboriginal bodies intended to assist the Commonwealth in carrying out its responsibilities to the Aboriginal people. The Aboriginal community can be proud of the work done by the Committee on its behalf.

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