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Wednesday, 13 November 1974
Page: 2308

Senator CHANEY - My question is directed to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. I refer to the joint announcement by the Minister and the Western Australian Minister for Community Welfare on 10 November 1974 and that a further $lm from the 1974-75 grant could be devoted to further village development by and for Aborigines in Western Australia. Can the Minister advise the Senate whether any requirement is laid down either by the Commonwealth or the State Government that such village developments take place in reasonable proximity to future employment opportunities or are accompanied by the development of employment opportunities near the village?

Senator CAVANAGH -No, Mr President,the additional $lm which was announced, was allocated to the State not for a particular purpose. The State, with the agreement of the Commonwealth Government, had experimented in developing 2 village areas- one at One Arm Point and the other at Wiluna. As they were village complexes the Australian Government was somewhat reluctant to permit further village concepts to go ahead until this experiment was tried and we knew that it would operate. The Western Australian Government had for some time sought approval to go ahead with further village construction.

With Mr Baxter, the Western Australian Minister, I visited and saw the remarkable achievement in construction at One Arm Point and, more particularly, at Wiluna. Houses were going up at the rate of one a month and were completely constructed by Aborigines. They were first class modular homes and were built with one supervisor working under architectural supervision. The keenness of Aborigines to get their homes constructed was such that they were asking why, since they got up at 4 o 'clock in the morning, they could not start at 4 o 'clock and get the houses finished. The Government decided that it was a worthwhile experiment and released the $lm. You do not erect Aboriginal villages of necessity where employment opportunities exist. Aborigines have an affinity with the land and it is their tribal land. We do not decide where they should live but where they decide to live we will try to make living more comfortable for them. Where the future village will be situated is a decision for the Western Australian Government but we will be financing its construction.

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