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Wednesday, 21 May 1980
Page: 3044


Mr RUDDOCK (Dundas) -The honourable member for Cunningham (Mr West) tonight made an address on Aboriginal people. I wish to make some short remarks about the comments that he made in his speech. He indicated from a quote that he had from the Melbourne Herald that there is no interest in this Parliament in the health and welfare of Aboriginal people. The fact of the matter is that as a result of a significant speech made by the former member for Fremantle, Mr Beazley, an inquiry was instituted by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs into the health of Aboriginal people. That resulted in a very significant report being prepared by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and tabled in the Parliament. It is a very significant document, one that I would encourage the honourable member to read, and one upon which I believe the Government will act.

Following the honourable member's comments on the question of health, when clearly the quote that he mentioned really was not involved with the interest of the Parliament as a whole in the health of Aboriginal people, he made some very enlightening comments about housing. I must say that I was not aware before of all of the allegations that he made. They were numerous and quite detailed. It was fascinating to listen to the comments of the honourable member on the problems confronting Aboriginals in the area of housing. I was particularly interested in the comments that he made in relation to the position in New South Wales, where he alleged that there were funds made available by the Commonwealth that were not being made available on an unconditional basis for Aboriginal housing. They were comments of a great deal of concern to me.

I hope that his comments tonight will lead to the course that was adopted following the significant speech of the former honourable member for Fremantle on a previous occasion. Those comments led to a reference from the then Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and the then Minister for Health to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs to investigate housing. Having regard to the comments of the honourable member tonight, certainly I hope that the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Chaney) will instigate a reference to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs so that these important allegations can be adequately investigated.

Motion (by Mr Bourchier) agreed to:

That the question be now put. Original question resolved in the affirmative.







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