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Thursday, 14 October 1971
Page: 2438

Mr CALDER (Northern Territory) - My Deputy Chairman, in speaking to the estimates for the Department of the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts, which cover, of course, matters relating to Aboriginal affairs, tourism and the arts. I would like to spend some time discussing that part of those estimates which relate to Aboriginal affairs. I would like to direct my remarks in particular to the estimates for the Northern Territory. I believe that the vote overall for Aboriginal affairs throughout Australia amounts to some $40m of which the estimate for the Northern Territory is $ 14.6m or thereabouts. In 1970-71, $3. 7m was appropriated of which all but $200,000 was used. But the estimated amount for the financial year under consideration has increased vastly to $8.4m under division 368, sub-division 3, items 01 to 07 which are mainly concerned with financing Aboriginals on settlements and missions and the general expenses of administering Aboriginal affairs in the Northern Territory. This amount does not include expenditure for capital works or assistance by way of specific benefits.

This considerable amount of money has been allocated and it will assist the many projects which are being carried out on behalf of and with Aboriginals all over Australia. As I have said, my remarks refer mainly to the Northern Territory and to those Aboriginals who participate in, and in some cases run, their own enterprises. In many cases a considerable amount of money is involved in these operations. I refer to such enterprises as the cattle station at Bamyili, the cattle station at Haasts Bluff and the various other enterprises which are not quite of such capital value. The cattle station at Haasts Bluff runs about 6,000 head of cattle which, on the going rate, would be worth about $750,000 and improvements to the station would further increase their value. I do not know the number of stock at Bamyili. But these cattle stations are being operated for and with the Aboriginal people. Many other enterprises such as the brick making concern at Yirrkala receive assistance from the Government. At the other end of the Northern Territory a bus service operated by Gus Williams runs down the Finke to Palm Valley. These 2 places could not be further apart.

There is a very conscious feeling over the whole of the Northern Territory and the rest of Australia that we should get Aboriginal people involved in enterprises such as these and that we should assist them financially. This is what the Government is aiming to do. This is obvious when we look at the estimates that are contained in this year's Budget. To illustrate my point I will refer to a cattle station at Haasts Bluff which is run by a European who is an expert cattle man. I might say that he is one of few who happen to be working with the Aborigines in the Northern Territory. On this station there are about 5,000 or 6,000 head of cattle. This man runs the station as a business enterprise and he is making a profit. He is very satisfied with the team work which has developed on this station. There are other enterprises I could mention but I refer to this one because I recently visited it. It is about 180 miles from my home.

The point that strikes me is that the Government is prepared to spend a vast amount of money, willingly and without hesitation, in the development of the Northern Territory but what the Aboriginal people need is leadership. This station is a first class cattle station situated in very good country but without this person to run it the locals though they work well with him, would be at a loss in any attempt to run it as a successful financial operation. The situation is that this is a very dry time in this part of central Australia. The man runs this place with the help of the Aboriginals who own it and will benefit from its successful operation. The man in charge will not benefit. He just works there and is due to retire shortly unfortunately. The Aboriginals need assistance and they need understanding in the same way as it is needed in any other enterprise when it is in trouble. The Government should be looking towards the training of men and women, particularly men, to lead the Aboriginal people. It is all very well to vote an amount of money for them, but they need leadership.

The Aboriginal people need to become involved in viable enterprises. This is essential for development of their character and to bring themselves on. This is their way of life and they want to do this. But they need people with a tremendous dedication to lead them. This station is situated 180 miles from Alice Springs. The temperature today was probably about 105 degrees; there has been no rain; the dust would be blowing; the cattle are dying; there is no water available; there is no transport with which to ship the cattle, and so on. This is the normal situation in the outback areas. The Aboriginal people need men of character, determination and ability to lead them. This is the plea that 1 am making in the few minutes I have available to me in this debate. I commend the Government for its expenditure in the Territory for the advancement of Aboriginals but I believe the Government should establish some sort of training course to find leaders for these people. I know that it is hard to find these people. I have done this myself, so I know how hard it is. They must have tremendous determination and be able to see the light at the end of the pipe and not many people can see it.

Dr Jenkins - Resign and take it on.

Mr CALDER - I do not think I could take it on again but I thank the honourable member for his suggestion. My point is that the Government is backing, with a lot of money, all these enterprises running through the top end of Arnhem Land from Yirrkala and we have to have practical men who will go there and help the Aboriginals. I do not say that we should run their lives and give them no chance to take on these jobs.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Cope) - Order! The honourable member's time has expired.

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