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Tuesday, 10 December 1974
Page: 3283

Senator KEEFFE (Queensland) -I want to make a brief contribution to the debate. I am not surprised at the statements made by Senator Rae because, frankly, he knows nothing about the subject. I am disappointed about some of the statements made by Senator Bonner. There are a couple that I should correct. I do not think there is any quarrel about Aborigines controlling their own areas. That is not the basis of any argument that might be put up by the Government. What we are trying to say is that there ought to be freedom for the Aborigines to do their own thing. I strongly contest the argument that there is freedom in Queensland. There is no freedom in Queensland. It does not matter how much Senator Bonner tries to apologise for the National Party Government in Queensland, and particularly the Premier -

Senator Bonner - I was not apologising; I was stating facts.

Senator KEEFFE - It is not true, Senator. You know it is not true. I think the honourable senator has been bulldozed into this situation by the shadow Minister for Aboriginal Affairs on the Opposition side. Frankly, I would give a substantial donation to charity if the Premier of Queensland could produce in the next couple of weeks details of every free election held on a reserve in Queensland in the last 2 years. There was an election on Palm Island recently. It was an election of intimidation.

Senator Bonner - Do you say it was not a free election?

Senator KEEFFE - It was not a free election and the honourable senator knows it was not a free election. It was a rort from the start when there was a false petition. The honourable senator knows that the petition which people started taking on Saturday was another rort. It was not even circulated by a permanent resident of the Island. It was circulated by a visitor standing outside the canteen at the end of the drinking session. Those sorts of things are wrong. The election was held and the honourable senator knows how it was held. He knows that a stranger to the Island stood over the voters when they went to vote for that famous election.

Senator Bonner - What rot.

Senator KEEFFE - The honourable senator can look at the Townsville 'Bulletin'.

Senator Bonner - Can you bring proof into this chamber?

Senator KEEFFE - The honourable senator is fond of quoting conservative newspapers in Queensland. There is a photograph showing a person actually intimidating voters as they went to that so-called free election. I want to quote two or three examples that happened in the last week. These are true cases. There was the case at Old Mapoon only a few days ago. Two police went out there and ordered away from the settlement the only person who had a vehicle. They forced him up to Batavia Landing and the police followed, coincidentally or otherwise. One of the policemen was a chap named 0 'Shea. He was one of those who went there 10 years ago with a gun in his holster in order to shift the remnants of the Old Mapoon people. I do not think Mr O'Shea was very happy about having to do this on this occasion. When people asked how they were to get to the voting place- the honourable senator would know that they would have to go to Weipa- they were told that they could soandso well walk. That distance was about 60 miles. I suppose that most of the people who went to Old Mapoon would be Labor Party supporters, as they were throughout the area of Cook. The Aboriginal people voted two to one for the Labor candidate.

Senator Bonner - Is that how Eric Deeral is going to make it?

Senator KEEFFE - Deeral will probably win it because of the hokey-pokey of the voting system but he did not get the majority vote. The honourable senator can read the results in the Courier-Mail' or any other conservative newspaper that he wants to read. I want to refer to the other incident that happened at Palm Island on Friday. The house of a black resident was surrounded by 4 white policemen, all the local Aboriginal police, some 10 or 12 of them, the manager and the deputy manager, and they intimidated him. That was sheer intimidation whether Senator Bonner likes it or not.

Senator Bonner - Did you see it?

Senator KEEFFE - I have had eye witness reports of it and I believe them. The reports are from Aboriginal people and I believe them. If Senator Bonner wants to listen to the white manager's version of it, I am sorry. The white manager in these circumstances can only be telling lies. He is in a very serious situation over this incident. Why were 16 or 18 people needed to surround one black man's house on Friday of last week, the day before the Queensland election, in a spirit of intimidation, bulldozing them off the island? That same manager made a statement which was reported in the 'Courier-Mail' on Saturday, saying that there is only one financial member of the co-operative. Of course, this cooperative is one of the few viable co-operatives that could have got off the ground, and only with the help of the Australian Government. This same man said that the unions had no right to ensure that people on the island were getting proper wages. When the Federated Engine Drivers and Firemen's Association representative visited there a few weeks ago he found that black people on that island were being underpaid to the extent of $80 a week. But this same white manager, who adopted these intimidatory tactics says that it is wrong to change the situation because the people are happy getting $80 a week less than the award. What sort of poppycock are we being given?

Let us touch just briefly on these councils. I am not blaming Senator Bonner for the situation. Senator Bonner is the unfortunate victim of the white man 's law and the white man 's stand-over tactics in the Party to which he belongs. I have great sympathy for what Senator Bonner is trying to do and I feel very sorry for him when he has to mouth words of opposition in the manner he has had to under pressure from his own Party. But I am saying that these things are wrong.

Senator Bonner - I rise on a point of order, Mr Temporary Chairman. I take great exception to Senator Keeffe saying that I am under pressure from anyone. I speak Neville Bonner's thoughts in this chamber and no one puts me under pressure. I believe that Senator Keeffe 's remarks should be withdrawn.

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