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Wednesday, 25 September 1974
Page: 1379

Senator KEEFFE (QUEENSLAND) - Is the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs aware that the Aboriginal Housing Panel is still operating on the same terms of reference as set out by the Liberal-Country Party Government in 1972? Is he also aware that Aborigines were not invited or allowed to join the Panel by our predecessors in government? Is he aware that when a recent appointment was made by the Panel, qualified personsAboriginal and white- were rejected in favour of a white applicant with no knowledge of Aboriginal housing needs and that one unsuccessful applicant of Aboriginal descent was offered a consolation prize of a newly thought up position of Assistant Director? If it is constitutionally possible, will the Minister dismiss the present Panel, excluding any Departmental appointee, and immediately set up a new Panel on which blacks constitute the majority of members?

Senator CAVANAGH (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs) -The Building Panel was set up by the previous Government. It comprises members of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects and is for the purpose of inquiring into and reporting on Aboriginal housing. It is doing this at the present time. To some extent, the Panel is financed by my Department. There is no constitutional obstruction to abandoning the Panel at the present time. It has just produced a program and the stage has been reached of making appointments to put an Aboriginal Housing Panel into operation. Some accusations have been made about the first appointment that was made. Of course, there was a protest by the applicant who was unsuccessful. It is not true to say that an applicant with less experience got the job. With some knowledge of the capabilities of the disgruntled applicant, I was prepared to make an appointment for that applicant so that he could get training in the particular element of operation in which he had some deficiency with a view to his taking a superior job at a future occasion. Apparently that is not acceptable. I would say that it would not be good practice to canvass the qualifications of the applicant and it would not support the case that Senator Keeffe is championing at the present time.

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