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Friday, 4 May 1984
Page: 1602


Senator TEAGUE —Does the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs agree with her colleague the honourable member for Kalgoorlie that his experience in an electorate containing many large Aboriginal communities is that their constant demand is for things such as better health, schooling and accommodation rather than mineral rights unless, to quote Mr Campbell, ' fulminated by white zealots or urban outsiders'. I ask whether the Minister agrees with the honourable member for Kalgoorlie in his letter to her and Caucus colleagues on 28 March, which states:

There are more Aboriginal people in my electorate than in any other except perhaps the Northern Territory. While I get constant demands for . . . (health, schooling and accommodation) I never have any demand for mineral rights from this group unless fulminated by white zealots or in some cases, urban part Aboriginals.


Senator RYAN —When Senator Teague rose to ask a question about Mr Campbell's views I thought he was going to ask me about emu farms because, according to what Mr Campbell said on the AM program this morning, considerable interest has been expressed by his Aborginal constituency in emu farms.


Senator Archer —What has that got to do with it?


The PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Ryan, will you please answer the question?


Senator RYAN —Senator Teague asked about statements he claims have been made by Mr Campbell about the needs of his Aboriginal constituents. I am in quite a good position to make a comment on those claims because I have spent considerable time in Mr Campbell's electorate. During the period I was shadow Minister for Aboriginal Affairs I visited his electorate frequently, precisely to have discussions with Aboriginal communities about their demands and aspirations. I certainly agree with Mr Campbell, if Senator Teague is quoting him properly, that they have a great concern for educational opportunities, housing and, indeed, for basic things such as running water, which some communities do not have. They have enormous transport problems; they need better health services, more decentralised health services and so on. I would certainly endorse Mr Campbell's view that there are many urgent needs in the area of social policy in his entire electorate, which of course extends beyond the Kimberleys, and that his Aboriginal constituents are very much aware of those things and are very vigorous in pointing out their needs to Mr Campbell and to any other politicians who visit those areas. However, I have also had representations from Aboriginal people living in that electorate concerning their desire to have secure tenure of land and some access to share in any mineral wealth that may be created on their land. I diverge from Mr Campbell's comments to that extent, although his experiences may well have been different from mine.

Since the question was directed to me as Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, I conclude by saying that our policy is that land rights for Aboriginal owners ought to be recognised. My colleague Mr Holding is preparing a co-ordinated Federal approach to land rights so that we can move to our objective of assisting to achieve land rights, including some rights to the development of minerals for Aboriginals in all parts of Australia.