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Wednesday, 3 May 1961

Mr MAKIN (Bonython) .- I cannot follow the reasoning of the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney). He has suggested that we should, not press this amendment because a select committee is to be appointed to consider the- claim that we are making on behalf of the aborigines and the proposal that they should have the same electoral rights as other people have. If, as the honorable member for Perth suggests, there is no merit in the Opposition's amendment, the Government should withdraw its proposed alterations to the electoral act in this connexion now. Consideration of this particular proposal should be deferred. In my opinion, Government supporters are adopting a most inconsistent attitude. They are prepared to give a vote to an aboriginal in the Australian Capital Territory but would deny a vote to an aboriginal who happened to be outside that territory and was. not in a State unless the aboriginal was enrolled in that State. Surely, if an aboriginal is entitled to a vote in one part of Australia, he should be entitled to a vote in any other part of the Commonwealth. That is consistent.

Government supporters aTe discriminating inexcusably against aborigines who are resident outside Commonwealth territories. I believe that the people of Australia would not endorse that view. They realize that all people in Australia are entitled to fair treatment. If it is right that the aborigines should be qualified for a vote for the National Parliament in one part of Australia, they should be qualified in other parts of this country. Surely the good name of Australia demands that the native people should have equal rights wherever they happen to be in Australia. I press the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) to consider withdrawing the amendment proposed by the Government to the Electoral Act until the committee mentioned by the honorable member for Perth has deliberated and has given us the advantage of its recommendations.

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