Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 10 October 1973
Page: 1860

Mr JAMES (Hunter) - I wish to participate in this debate on the estimates for the Department of the Capital Territory and the Department of the Northern Territory. I thought I heard over the intercom system the Minister for the Northern Territory say that there had been widespread resignations from the Northern Territory Police Force.

Mr Enderby - It is the other way around.

Mr Calder - I referred to resignations from the Commonwealth Police Force in the Australian Capital Territory. I was asking a question about it.

Mr JAMES - I see. I have made several visits to the Northern Territory. Earlier today some reference was made in the debate on the estimates for the Department of Aboriginal Affairs to the habit of excessive drunkenness among the Aboriginal population of the Northern Territory. I believe that it is the Europeans who mainly contribute to this habit. Recently, I was in Alice Springs, which is the home town of the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder), and in a hotel there I saw a fracas taking place between Aborigines. The publican or the hotel staff were taking little or no notice of it whatsoever. I said to one of the residents at Alice Springs: Is it the custom of certain hoteliers just to allow a fight to go on and not care whether a person is severely injured or suffers a fractured skull and then has to undergo hospitalisation?' I was assured by that person that it was just the norm and the people would fight until they were exhausted or one was defeated and ran away. I think that the European licencees in the Northern Territory - if I may use the vernacular - want pulling into line over this sort of thing. Whether it is laxity on the part of members of the police force or whether it is influence in high places that prevents the police force from taking action against licencees of liquor houses in the Northern Territory I do not know. I do not know who is at fault but if I had to make a guess I would say that it is the influential people outside the police force who prevent the police from taking stronger action.

Last year or the year before in this Parliament in a similar debate to this the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Les Johnson) pointed out in regard to this question of drunkenness among Aborigines in the Northern Territory that there were almost no prosecutions against licencees of liquor houses for selling liquor or serving liquor to a drunken person. It is my belief that this is an offence under the liquor laws of the Northern Territory because it is an offence under the liquor laws of most of the States of the Commonwealth. It might also truly be said that it is not very often that prosecutions take place against licencees of liquor houses in the major States. But one could also say that the serving of liquor to a drunken person in the major States of the Commonwealth is not as prevalent as it is in the Northern Territory. I hope that my remarks on this point will be noted and I should like to hear the honourable member for the Northern Territory who I understand is going to speak in this debate in a moment express an opinion on this matter, as I believe he will. I do not believe that he is a man who is afraid of losing a few votes from the liquor interests in the Northern Territory should he advocate stronger action against them for serving drunken persons.

Mr Calder - I cannot hear you; will you repeat what you said?

Mr JAMES - I have no doubt that you can hear what I am saying. I believe that the honourable member for the Northern Territory is courageous enough to give an answer to this question. I should like him to tell the House when he speaks how many prosecutions have taken place against the liquor interests in the Northern Territory in the last six or twelve months or the last three or four years for serving drunken persons and, in particular, Aborigines.

Two friends of mine in whose integrity I have complete faith were working on an Aboriginal mission about 40 miles from Katherine when the previous Government rightly increased social service payments to Aborigines in the Northern Territory. They informed me that on the day the Aborigines received their social service cheques, there was a fleet of taxis from Katherine lined up outside this mission to take them into Katherine. The Katherine Hotel exhausted its supplies of liquor, particularly wine. I have advocated previously in this Parliament and I put the greatest emphasis with the utmost sincerity on this matter again that the missions in the Northern Territory should be persuaded to have wet canteens on their missions.

Mr Calder - What is the name of the place to which you referred?

Mr JAMES - I did not mention the name but I believe it is Bamyili. The honourable member for the Northern Territory would know the place I am referring to from even that explanation.

Mr Calder - There is not a mission in the area.

Mr JAMES - It is not a mission?

Mr Calder - I am just telling you-

Mr JAMES - I believe it is a mission. If it is not a mission it is a place where a large body of Aborigines reside.

Mr Calder - Which has a wet canteen.

Mr JAMES - I am saying that the missions in the Northern Territory should be persuaded to have wet canteens where civilised drinking would take place. The honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) supports me in this point of view and I believe that the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) is also sympathetic to my point of view on this question. If the Aborigines were to drink under the supervision of their superiors, there would be less chance of them indulging in gross offensive behaviour. They could not be exploited by ruthless or brutal European taxi drivers, publicans or liquor licensees.

The narrow minds of the mission people on this subject - I apologise for referring to them as being narrow-minded - must be widened because common sense must prevail. Fancy a hotel selling out of cheap wine and grog at the expense of the unfortunate, uneducated Aborigine. He does not have the make-up to handle money in the proper way as does an intelligent European - or a member of the Liberal Party who would get it and invest it in some enterprise which would pay 10 per cent to 15 per cent.

Dr Jenkins - The Country Party does not do too badly.

Mir JAMES - I understand that members of the Australian Country Party would be likely to do that, too. The Aborigine is shockingly exploited in the Northern Territory, particularly by the liquor interests. If ever I had to vote to nationalise an industry of this country, I would hope it would be the liquor interests of the Northern Territory.

Mr Armitage - The rum runners.

Mr JAMES - The honourable member for Chifley rightly refers to them as the rum runners. I hope that the 2 dedicated Ministers at the table, the Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Bryant) and the Minister for Secondary Industry (Mr Enderby), will heed what I am saying in connection with this question because I intend to propound in the Parliament, in my Party room and wherever I get an audience that will listen to me the shocking exploitation of the Aborigines in the Northern Territory by the liquor interests. I hope that this situation is corrected at an early date.

Suggest corrections