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Tuesday, 29 October 1974
Page: 2097

Senator KEEFFE (Queensland) -Mr President,I will be 2 minutes. I want to protect Senator Bonner from himself. His was a tragic contribution. Frankly, I am doing this for Senator Bonner's own protection. I do not think the honourable senator should have become involved in a case like this by defending the Queensland Country Party which has been racially biased ever since it has been in government. The honourable senator knows that. The Country Party members are the people who have caused Aborigines on reserves in Queensland to live on a total fortnightly allowance of about $50-odd. That is true. It is equally true that the Country Party in Queensland discriminated against Senator Bonner in 2 Senate elections. It did that because he is black. That is to the standing disgrace of the Country Party in Queensland. When Senator Bonner looked like being No. 1 on the Liberal Party ticket the Country Party bent over backwards to make sure that he was pushed down the list.

It is racial discrimination in its worst form when an Aboriginal senator is discriminated against to that extent. Accusations have been made by colleagues on this side of the chamber that the Liberal Party in this Parliament prevented Senator Bonner from being a delegate to the United Nations. Again, that is discrimination by his own parliamentary party. The hypocrisy which stands out ought to be exposed. The suggestion which the good senator makes about the Aborigines in Queensland being free to make their own decisions is not true. Frankly, I suppose he has to defend the organisation. He is a victim of the machine. But this is not true. In many instances people on reserves have not had an election for years. I will tell the Senate why they have not. It is because white management does not allow them to have an election.

Senator Maunsell - What about Palm Island?

Senator KEEFFE - It is not of much use interjecting about Palm Island. That was a hoax. A forged petition was put up by the white man's vote in order to let the Townsville City Council take over at that time. Within 2 hours, under white domination, the new council agreed to let the City Council take it over. Negotiations are now proceeding with Ansett Transport Industries Ltd or with a subsidiary of that organisation for the establishment of a tourist spot on the island and to kick the blacks off. So I ask Senator Maunsell not to interpect about Palm Island. In any case, he should not object because he is part of the organisation which has kept Senator Bonner down all the way through in Queensland. I think that those few points ought to be made known to keep the record straight.

SenatorBONNER (Queensland)-I wish to make a personal explanation.

The PRESIDENT - Does the honourable senator claim to have been misrepresented?

Senator BONNER -Yes. Senator Keeffesaid that the Liberal-Country Party in opposition would not allow me to go to the United Nations. That is a lie.

The PRESIDENT - Order! Senator Bonner, you will have to withdraw that remark. You cannot use the word 'lie'.

Senator BONNER -Mr President,let me then say that it is not the truth. At no time did I put my name on a piece of paper in our Party room as nominating to go to the United Nations.

Senator Devitt - Mr President,I raise a point of order. Do I understand Senator Bonner to have withdrawn the expression: 'That is a lie*? I insist upon it being done.

The PRESIDENT - Order! I asked the honourable senator to withdraw the expression. He substituted the words: 'It is not the truth'.

Senator Cavanagh - Mr President,I raise a point of order. The honourable senator got permission to make a personal explanation. I thought it would have been a personal explanation because he was misreported or misquoted or something. But his explanation is not a complaint about anything that was said against him. It is about something which was said against his Party. Is an honourable senator entitled to get up and complain that something was said against his Party? That is not a personal explanation.

The PRESIDENT - Senator Bonner,will you proceed to show the Senate in which way you have been misrepresented?

Senator BONNER - Mr President,it was a personal reflection on me. I feel that I have the right to explain exactly what happened.

The PRESIDENT - Senator Bonner,confine yourself to the personal explanation.

Senator BONNER -Mr President,a notice was put on the notice board in our Party room calling for nominations to go to New York to the United Nations. At no time did I put my name on that notice board. At no time was I prevented in any way. I did not nominate. I had no intention of going to the United Nations. I have no desire to go to the United Nations. Therefore it is a reflection on me as a person to say that I was stopped from going to the United Nations or rejected by my Party or by the Country Party at any time.

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