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Wednesday, 13 October 1971
Page: 2317

Mr CALDER - I withdraw the remark.

Mr SPEAKER - I trust that the honourable member will not continue to make unparliamentary statements about other honourable members.

Mr CALDER - Absolutely not, Mr Speaker. I doubt the honourable member's real interest in the welfare of these children, whether they were black or white. In thelast sentence of his personal explanation he said that the owner of Napperby station, Mr Shepherd, is the campaign manager for a Country Party candidate. His whole explanation was giving the lead to this sentence, and this is why I am on my feet defending a man who is thousands of miles from here and who cannot defend himself. What has this last sentence to do with the honourable member's explanation about meningitis? I say the reason is that a general election is coming up in the Northern Territory on 23rd October for the Legislative Council. According to a Northern Territory newspaper, a Dr Dick Klugman, who I take it is the honourable member for Prospect, will go to Alice Springs on Friday, 15 th October, to assist an Australian Labor Party candidate at this election who is standing for a local country electorate. So the honourable member was actually playing Northern Territory Legislative Council politics right here.

Mr Cohen - What are you doing?

Mr CALDER - I am defending the man whom the honourable member attacked and who cannot answer the honourable member. The honourable member for Prospect was trying to bolster his Party's candidate at the expense of the reputation, and the correct version of the story, of one of central Australia's most respected men and, let me say, a returned soldier. Now let me tell the truth of the matter. Mr Shepherd is not the owner of Napperby station. This could easily have been found out with a telephone call to Alice Springs. Anyone in Alice Springs could have told him that, but I say that it did not suit the honourable member's campaign argument to find this out. Mr Shepherd is not the campaign manager for the local Country Party candidate. The local Country Party candidate is A. G. W. Greatorex, M.B.E., M.C., M.L.C., President of the Northern Territory Legislative Council. The honourable member's inference was that because of these assumed correct, but incorrect assumptions, the Aborigines on Napperby station are not receiving sympathy and consideration.

Let me deal with some more facts relevant to this insidious attack on a man who cannot answer it in this House. Originally, 2 patients were evacuated from Napperby Station and brought to the Alice Springs hospital. When this happened, the manager of the station contacted the Flying Doctor base and an aircraft arrived within 2 hours. That is a pretty quick trip. Four others were evacuated as well. They are all now on the road to recovery in the Alice Springs hospital. Another point is that in excess of 3,000 antibiotic tablets were sent to the station to be distributed to the Aborigines there. Mr Shepherd personally distributed those tablets S times a day to the Aborigines who were on the station. This is probably why they are on the road to recovery. He did this himself. He also organised the water carting programme. We have heard something about the water carting programme. The fire fighting unit and 2 other units were used to cart fresh water from a bore quite a long way from the station, and brackish water from a bore closer to the station for ablutions and washing purposes, not for watering the station lawns. This was done with the full knowledge of the bushfire council. That is the body which has the interest in the fire fighting unit. No dispute has existed between the manager and the Government authority concerning the bore being put down in that area.

The medical superintendent at the Alice Springs hospital was at a loss to understand such an attack on one of the most cooperative and conscientious station men in central Australia. Why was such an attack made? It was made because the honourable member for Prospect puts the support of some Australian Labor Party candidate ahead of a common and decent approach to Aboriginal welfare as practised by the manager of Napperby station. Another reason is that the 2 men - the manager of Napperby station and the Australian Country Party candidate - are both distinguished local citizens and ex-servicemen. The honourable member would prefer to see his Party candidate - I will riot describe him - representing this area. I am most disappointed at the way in which the honourable member behaved when he obviously bore false witness.

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