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Tuesday, 29 August 1972
Page: 465

Senator O'BYRNE (TASMANIA) - Is the AttorneyGeneral aware that a senior New South Wales police officer, Assistant Commissioner Baldwin, stated at a meeting of the New South Wales Aboriginal Advisory Council in Sydney on 14th August that he had been requested by the Commonwealth police to crack down on Aborigines to prevent them organising following the removal of the Aboriginal 'embassy' in Canberra? Would he verify or deny a report that in the past 2 weeks or so police in Sydney have arrested over 40 Aborigines for a wide variety of alleged offences under the New South Wales Summary Offences Act? Will he, as Minister in charge of the Commonwealth police, make urgent inquiries to ascertain whether this is true? If such a request was made by the Commonwealth police to State police, what is the reason for it? Will he explain why police are exercising surveillance over the homes of certain Aborigines in the inner Sydney suburbs?

Senator GREENWOOD - I am unaware of the statement to which Senator O'Byrne referred as having been made by a New South Wales police officer on 14th August. I am equally unaware of all the matters to which he referred in his question. I would doubt very much that the Commonwealth police have any part in the matters to which he has referred because it is not the function of the Commonwealth police in any sense to take action in New South Wales with respect to offences against the Summary Offences Act in that State; nor have the Commonwealth police any function to deal specifically with Aborigines or their activities. The Commonwealth police are concerned simply with the enforcement of Commonwealth laws and they carry out their investigations into these matters without regard to the character, nature or colour of the skin of the person who happens to be investigated. The senator having raised the matter, however, I shall look into it, and if anything I have said is incorrect, I shall let him know.

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