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Thursday, 31 August 1972
Page: 584

Senator O'BYRNE (TASMANIA) - lt is very frosty in the unemployment pool.

The ACTING PRESIDENT- Order! When an honourable senator is called for the purpose of asking a question, he must ask his question and not make comments.

Senator O'BYRNE - J direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Territories. Although the Minister for External Territories has demonstrated commendable concern about Mr Clunies-Ross and his feudal control of the Cocos Islands, why has the Government allowed this intolerable situation to exist for the past 15 years? If fundamental requirements for more democracy and freedom were set out in a letter from the Government to Mr Clunies-Ross in 1968, why has the Government failed to ensure Mr Clunies-Ross's compliance with those directives so that the islanders could be freed from this so-called benevolent despotism?

Senator WRIGHT - My first comment on the question is that it shows a complete and unquestioning readiness to take up the cliches and catchcries of the current commentators. The Minister for External Territories - Mr Peacock, in another place-

Senator Georges - Whom are you insulting?

The ACTING PRESIDENT- Senator Georges, I ask you to desist from interjecting. It is intolerable that you should continually interject. If honourable senators do not desist, I will certainly take action.

Senator WRIGHT - J was about to say that the Minister for External Territories, the honourable Andrew Peacock, when questioned on this subject yesterday emphasised that the reports, which were reflected with substantial accuracy in the Press, gave a one-sided aspect of conditions on Cocos Islands. If those who wish to be informed on Cocos Islands will read the annual reports presented to this Parliament a more balanced and unimpulsive picture will appear. One commentator last night did say that 30 years before the Beveridge plan the owner of the estate on Home Island in Cocos was paying retirement pensions to employees for the rest of their lives at the rate of 50 per cent of their wages. 1 hold no brief for the situation on Cocos Islands, but 1 ask all people to wait Until the Minister has examined the position fully by visiting the island and as a result of further consultation with his Department. In the interest of the true welfare of the people of Cocos Island I urge that no partisan judgment be made now but rather that people wait until the Minister has made his report.

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