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Tuesday, 26 November 1974
Page: 2814

Senator Keeffe (QUEENSLAND) asked the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:

(1)   Did a firm of consultants. Clarke, Gazzard and Flower, put forward a plan for re-housing the Aboriginal Community at Mowanjum.

(   2 ) Did the plan provide for the construction of houses on part of an easement for the overland telegraph line; if so, was the new site within 1 ,000 feet of project extensions to the local airport runway.

(3)   Have the plans been cancelled.

(4)   Was the firm of consultants paid approximately $7,000 in fees for a plan which was unworkable.

Senator Cavanagh - The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows: ( 1 ), (2), (3) and (4) The previous Minister for Aboriginal Affairs approved on 10 July 1973 a grant for $6,875 to the Mowanjum community to retain Clarke, Gazzard and Flower to plan the redevelopment of the Mowanjum village in the general area of the present site. The consultants and the Mowanjum community were aware, before January 1974, that the Department of Transport proposed to extend the air-strip in such a way as to create a possible noise nuisance in the area being considered for new housing. At the requests of the Aboriginal Housing Panel, Professor D. Freeman spent approximately 6 weeks at Mowanjum consulting with the community on a number of matters including its attitude towards the location of the new housing. It has been made clear to the community that its choice of site is not restricted to the present location at Mowanjum, and the community has been asked whether it wished to relocate, but until recently it expressed its wish to remain at Mowanjum. Study of the site had proceeded on this basis under the direction of Clarke, Gazzard and Flower at a cost of $6,875 as set out below: -In September the community learned of the possibility that a Defence Services base would be established near the airstrip and the proposed location of the housing development. As a result of this information, the community appears to have reversed its decision on the location of the new housing and has stated that it now wishes the new development to take place some distance away. I understand that the community has come to an agreement with the Derby Shire Council in respect of land on the Mount House Road. This site will require further studies before development begins but a substantial part of the work carried out with the original grant of $6,875, including $2,000 for house design and some of the work done in relation to water and electricity supplies will be applicable to the new site.

The consultants and the community became aware only recently of the easement for the telegraph line, as the easement is not shown on surveyors drawings. The telegraph line is, however, not located on this easement and, if it were, would .have affected the location of only 2 or 3 houses. Redrawing of plans to relocate these house-sites would have been a simple matter.

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