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Wednesday, 12 April 1972
Page: 1013

Senator COTTON - On 21st March 1972 Senator Gietzelt asked the following question, without notice:

I ask Senator Cotton a question in his capacity as Minister representing the Minister for the Interior. Does the Minister agree that all citizens of the Commonwealth over the age of 21 years should be afforded a vote in the Federal elections? In these circumstances, what steps, if any, have been taken to enrol several thousand Aborigines in the Northern Territory so that they may participat . in the forthcoming Federal elections?

The Minister for the Interior has provided the following reply to the honourable senator's question:

The Government believes that all persons over the age of 21 years should be afforded an opportunity to vote at Federal elections.

Enrolment is not compulsory for an Aboriginal native of Australia and it is an offence for a person tointerfere with or to attempt to interfere with the free exercise by an Aborigine of his choice whether or not to enrol as an elector. Electoral Officers regularly conduct educational programmes to inform the Aboriginal people of their franchise rights and the next such educational programme for the Northern Territory will be undertaken during August/September next.

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