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Tuesday, 27 November 1973
Page: 3967

Mr JAMES (Hunter10.55) - This afternoon the Parliament involved itself in another very interesting debate on the welfare of Aborigines. I believe that the debate was conducted on a high plane and that very little Party politics was resorted to, as was mentioned by the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder). But I am somewhat disappointed-

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member for Hunter must be made aware of the fact that during the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the House he cannot debate any matter that was discussed during this session. The honourable member has made a passing reference to such a matter, but he should deal with another subject now.

Mr JAMES - Thank you for your guidance, Mr Speaker. The matter on which I wish to speak is this: I do not think that honourable members on either side of the House realise the tragic plight of Aborigines generally in the Northern Territory as a result of the manner in which they are indulging in the use of alcoholic beverages. I would be very happy to see honourable members interest themselves more in this growing problem among Aborigines. Some of our news writers have interested themselves in the problem. In recent times several articles have been written referring to the Yirrkala Aboriginal people, large numbers of whom can be found lying under the trees outside the Walkabout Hotel at Gove after having spent practically the whole of their $30 or $40 a week or a fortnight, whatever it is that they receive, on alcohol, then going back to the missions and beating up their female partners. I think that honourable members must interest themselves in this problem before it becomes more acute.

I do not know the answer, but I would like to see the liquor interests prevailed upon to agree to persuade Aborigines who have had a fair quantity of alcohol to go home. I believe that if the liquor interests will not play ball with that request made by responsible authorities, action should be taken. Provision is made in a Northern Territory ordinance for the prosecution of liquor interests who serve a drunken person. There is a vast legal difference between an intoxicated person and a drunken person, as the lawyers in the House would know. From my humble learnings of the law - the little bit which I did - a drunken person is a person who is so affected by alcohol that he is incapable of properly controlling himself or his affairs. In other words, he is staggering about; he cannot walk straight; he is falling over. If the liquor interests continue to serve a person who gets to that stage, I believe that the law should be invoked, with all the severity which it provides. The liquor interests should incur a very savage penalty for the first offence of serving a drunken person. For the second offence a licensee should lose his licence.

I had only 5 minutes to speak on this matter tonight because the Parliament concludes its business for the day at 1 1 p.m. I hope that honourable members will interest themselves in this problem of over-indulgence in alcohol by Aborigines in the Northern Territory. None of us would suggest barring them from drinking, but we should prevail upon the liquor interests to desist from serving drunken Aborigines or otherwise incur a very severe penalty. I believe that something can and should be done, and it should be done immediately, in relation to this problem.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! It being 11 o'clock the House stands adjourned until 11.30 a.m. tomorrow.

House adjourned at II p.m.

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