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Tuesday, 4 December 1973
Page: 4185

Mr COHEN (ROBERTSON, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs been drawn to statements that have been made by the eminent criminologist, Gordon Hawkins, which point to a dangerous and pernicious mythology in Australia today that Aborigines are paid in excess of what is paid to Europeans or white people, that is, through the Social Security Department? Does the Minister agree that this mythology that is now common in folklore in Australia that Aboriginals are receiving up to '$200 a week merely by going down to the social welfare departments and putting out their hands is injurious to the race relations that we hope to improve in Australia.?

Mr BRYANT (WILLS, VICTORIA) (Minister for the Capital Territory) - I have not had the particular statement brought to my notice but it is one of the sad facts of Australian life that people do magnify the benefits that are being paid to Aborigines beyond all belief. The facts are that they receive the same benefits as the rest of the people in Australia and this has come about only after a long struggle in which, of course, honourable members on the other side participated to see that they received benefits. There are still some parts of Australia where for various reasons Aborigines do not receive the full benefits available to the rest of the community and there are some advantages, such as the secondary school allowances, which are payable to Aboriginal children and only to selected groups of non-Aboriginal children. But basically the Aboriginal people of Australia have a fair way to go yet before they receive the same services as do the rest of the community, particularly where they live in isolated places. As I have said before, I suppose it is our duty to produce for the average citizen some statistical base upon which people can do arithmetic relating to this matter but I hope that all honourable members will take part in refuting the view that the Aboriginal people of Australia are living on a handout system. They are not. They are receiving basically what they are entitled to receive as Australians and in many parts of Australia it is difficult to ensure that they receive that.

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