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Thursday, 30 September 1971
Page: 1831

Mr Enderby asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:

(1)   Are steps being taken to construct a Commonwealth owned public museum of Aboriginal arts and crafts and artefacts in Alice Springs.

(2)   If so, when will the museum be built.

(3)   Will the Government attempt to recover the many Aboriginal relics and art pieces and other rare artefacts which have been acquired by private collectors and placed in private museums.

(4)   Have steps been taken to preserve by magnetic tape the many other oral historical records of the many ageing Aboriginal men and women who live in the Northern Territory, which would otherwise be lost if not recorded.

Mr Hunt (GWYDIR, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Interior) - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   and (2) The establishment of a public museum and art gallery complex in Alice Springs which will include Aboriginal arts, crafts and artefacts, forms part of the Northern Territory Museum and Art Gallery Board's forward planning and a location for the building is under consideration. Timing for the commencement of construction is dependent on the availability of funds.

In addition Aborigines at some centres, e.g. Yuendumu, are establishing their own museums and repositories for public display or safe-keeping of ceremonial items.

(3)   Objects of historical and anthropological importance cannot be removed from the Territory without a permit. Export of such items from Australia requires a customs permit.

The Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies has purchased several large private collections as have State museums. The Welfare Division of the Northern Territory Administration has a substantial collection which is to be made available to the Territory Museum and Art Gallery Board for display, etc. The Board has started to acquire its own collection also and it will no doubt look to private collections as a source for material which may not be otherwise available.

(4)   As part of a continuing programme over many years the Welfare Division of the Northern Territory Administration, the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies and linguists have recorded and catalogued a considerable amount of oral literature and history from Aborigines in the Northern Territory.

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