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Wednesday, 10 October 1973
Page: 1831

Mr CALDER (Northern Territory) - In speaking to the estimates for the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, I should like first to say something about the shifting of the previous Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant). I feel that there was a fair amount of party skullduggery in this case, but honourable members opposite probably know more about that than I do. Yesterday we heard an honourable member say that the new Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Cavanagh) - I deplore the fact that this portfolio has been shifted to the Senate - was inexperienced in Aboriginal affairs. I do not think that he is as inexperienced as all that. He has been to the Northern Territory on numerous occasions. In fact I think it was last year or the year before that he was continually speaking about a settlement 180 miles northwest of Alice Springs, Yuendumu. He made allegations then that some of the girls on that settlement had been ordered by the superintendent to be raped. He continued with this fallacious argument for some months. He was being fed wrong information. The Aborigines on that settlement at that time banned him from the settlement. That is not a very good start for a Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. No doubt with Government backing and propaganda and so on he can make good, but it is a pretty poor start for a Minister. I blame the Government for appointing a man with that sort of performance behind him.

I turn now to the past performance of the previous Minister. I am sorry to see him go because he would always lend a willing ear even if some of his departmental officials apparently would not let the very sound advice that I offered him on numerous occasions filter through and be brought to fruition. A tremendous amount of money has been allocated in this Budget to Aboriginal affairs. I hope that it will be used profitably. We heard the honourable member for Brisbane (Mr

Cross) say that there is a feeling that all is not well with this Department. I would say that all is certainly not well in that previously we have had a demand for an inquiry into the running of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. I do not think that inquiry has been carried out yet. I certainly think that the way in which Aboriginal affairs are being administered, especially in the Northern Territory, warrants an inquiry.

We have had the affair of Nola being abducted by people who are either employed or sponsored by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. We have the affair at this moment at Utopia Station where Aborigines are pressuring the owners to sell it to them and threatening that if they do not sell the Aborigines will acquire the property. Unfortunately I spent all of last week trying to contact the then Minister for Aboriginal Affairs to warn him of this and to ask him to recall some of his smalltime dingoes or whoever is organising these attacks and the very ill-considered and stupid abduction of Nola. These sorts of things and the land sale at Booroloola, which I think I mentioned last week, are instances of what is happening. I do not know whether the Minister knows about them, but from the public relations aspect of Europeans and Aborigines living together in the country as Australian citizens, all these sorts of things are leading to a very serious state of affairs.

I think that the Aborigines are being told or led to believe that they may expect almost anything they wish. There is an expectancy cult, if I could call it that, and someone has to put to the Aborigines that a reasonable approach has to be adopted. For instance, if they feel that they want Everard Park, Willowra, Utopia or some other place, there should be a normal channel of negotiations. There was in the past. I have previously asked what will happen to these stations. The honourable member for Grey (Mr Wallis) in this place yesterday was espousing the wonderful benefits which would derive from the acquisition of Everard Park. He said that it now has 2,500 cattle on it and it will be built up and run for the benefit of Aborigines. But how many cattle did it have on it when the previous owner had it? There were 4,000 or more and it was being run as a viable cattle proposition.

I have said again and again in this House that the policies of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs are wrong. It is of no use buying these places and letting them run down. I could name half a dozen of them. If the Aborigines get Utopia it too will run down. The Aborigines should be trained and people should be provided to help the Aborigines run the properties. The Government should not just rush in and buy the stations and then do nothing about them. Not one cattle man in the country is attached to the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. The Government is spending millions of dollars on the purchase of cattle stations and at present the Aborigines are threatening the pioneers who own another one. By all means let them have the places if they can work them and run them. If they get them and let them run down, the whole countryside will fall apart. To run cattle stations one has to work them. I know. I have done it for 12 and 16 hours a day for year after year.

Mr Enderby - Did you make a success of it?

Mr CALDER - The Government could not get the Aborigines to do that. The all-knowing Minister at the table, the Minister for Secondary Industry and Minister for Supply (Mr Enderby), the ex-Minister for the Northern Territory who made such a brilliant job of handling his portfolio that he got the sack the other day, would be just as well advised to keep quiet because he would not know a bull from a bandicoot, as I have told him in this place before. I would hope that some good will come out of the tremendous amount of money that is to be allotted to the Aboriginal cause and that it will not be poured down the drain such as has happened in the instances which I have mentioned and in others. Take for instance the Nola abduction case, if I may refer to it in that way. I do not know whether the Aboriginal Legal Aid Service comes under the authority of the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs or the Attorney-General, but someone must control these people. If they stuck to giving legal aid to Aborigines they probably would be all right. But what do they do? They are in the abduction business, they are in the property acquisition business and they are waving big sticks all over the countryside; and they are heading for big trouble. That is something that we in the Territory do not want. We have lived there peaceably with the Aborigines for 20, 30 or 40 years, but the present Government's policy is pulling us apart. It is causing apartheid or separatism. We have heard a lot of nonsense talked by Labor men about apartheid in other countries.

But they are practising it here in their own country. Apartheid is being bred very fast in the north of Australia.

As I was saying, the Legal Aid Service chartered an aeroplane to shift Nola when they stole her away, after promising the parents that she would be brought back after lunch. They spirited her into a chartered aeroplane that was paid for by the Legal Aid Service and took her to Maningrida which is 220 miles out. It was a 400 miles charter. A regular airline service operates there every day, but that was not good enough for the people in the Aboriginal Legal Aid Service. They have to big note themselves and spend the money fast. They had $60,000 to set up the Service. Either last week or this week in the Legislative Council it was said that the Legal Aid Service is broke. I hope that the new Minister will really get himself organised in regard to Aboriginal affairs.

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

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