Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 9 March 1972
Page: 684

Senator GREENWOOD (VictoriaAttorneyGeneral) - Initially Senator Keeffe raised one matter regarding the treatment of Aborigines, in the context that it was either an injustice or a matter of discrimination.I do not know the full details of the matter he raised. He is not now in the chamber.I think that in those circumstances it is not incumbent upon me to attempt to reply to him. AllI will say is that I will convey to the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts (Mr Howson), whom I represent, the matter that he raised. I regret that he raised the matters in the way he did. If advice is given to the Minister or to myself then information can be obtained so that the matter can be aired and points of view can be explored in this chamber. Earlier this week Senator Keeffe raised a matter before one of the Senate standing committees. He was given considerable publicity. Subsequently, as I read, the person against whom that accusation was directed denied what Senator Keeffe said. Who am I to say where the truth lies in an issue like this? Who is anybody to say where ;he truth lies when the accusation is made before a Senate committee by an honourable senator and the person against whom it is directed subsequently challenges the veracity of what he said? Tha' is one of the problems which we have to consider. 1 assure the Senate that it is one of the problems which is being considered at this time. 1 notice that the prepared statement which Senator Keeffe had tonight was not a sworn statement. As Senator Keene said, it was a statement signed by a particular person. I only hope that in due course we will not have somebody challenging the account which has been given. But that is one of the problems which we face in these issues of alleged discrimination against Aborigines. This is one of the issues involved in an alleged injustice which has to be aired.

Senator Cavanagh - Why is it not investigated?

Senator GREENWOOD - One has te obtain the facts first before ohe can determine the matter. 1 think it is regrettable that people are prejudging the issues and imputing guilt when, obviously, there must be 2 sides to every story. I shall refer what Senator Keeffe said to the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts so that he can examine the matter.

Senator Brownraised a matter relating to unemployment relief and the conditions under which it is granted. I do not question the statement which was made by the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) some time ago that the policy of the Government with regard to persons to whom unemployment relief is granted is consistent with the policy laid down by Mr Chifley and Dr Evatt in 1947. Where there are persons who are members of a union and that union is on strike, those members do not qualify for unemployment relief if they are out of work. I assure the honourable senator that that was the policy which Mr Chifley and the Labor government laid down in 1947. It is appropriate that the Government should follow the same policy because I think it would be unfair to the mass of taxpayers and other unionists if we paid unemployment relief to unionists who are out of work when it is fellow members of their own union who are causing the strike which is creating their unemployment. I do not know whether that is what Senator Brown was challenging but I certainly understood him to be questioning, the application of that policy.

The other matter he raised related to whether the procedures of determining who is entitled to unemployment relief are carried through as speedily as they could be. Tonight, without any prior knowledge of what the honourable senator was raising, I am not in a position to give hint any information at all. I wish he had spoken to me. I would have obtained as speedily as I could some useful information from the Minister. 1 suggest to him that if he is concerned about the welfare of the persons whom he has mentioned, the best way of obtaining the information is to go direct to the Minister, particularly where the issue is the welfare of people who are wanting this money. I can say only that if the honourable senator does not go to the Minister and does not come to me but chooses to wait until after midnight to raise the matter during the adjournment debate there is a political point to be made. Obviously there is one way of getting the true information and that is by going directly to the source. But if the honourable senator chooses to wait until after midnight to raise the matter during the adjournment debate without going to the source 1 think it is fair comment that the honourable senator is trying to make politics of the matter. With all that, I shall convey what the honourable senator has said to the Minister. I am sure the Minister will give the honourable senator the information which, as I said earlier, if he had approached the Minister directly would have been given to him immediately.

Suggest corrections