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Thursday, 8 November 1973
Page: 1650

Senator KEEFFE - My question is directed to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. I refer him to recent Press statements that the famous Aboriginal bark painter Yirawala is considering returning his M.B.E. to the Queen because it is felt that he has been treated shabbily by the Government. As it appears that the Northern Territory Division of his Department has been less than helpful in this instance, will the Minister undertake to ascertain the full facts of Yirawala 's applications for grants and subsequently determine whether there is something he can do to assist this world-renowned artist?

Senator CAVANAGH -Some time ago I received a report on this matter which, I think, concerned a statement that the Department would not pay Yirawala 's fare so that he could visit a relative in hospital in Darwin. The relative, a girl, was not suffering from a serious complaint, but she had spent a long period in hospital. I understand that 4 Aborigines landed at Darwin and then wanted their fares home to be paid for them. A second question concerned the financing of a jeep, a car or a truck. The Department has not refused Yirawala permission to apply for assistance to buy a vehicle. We will assist him to prepare an application for our consideration. No application has yet been received. An earlier claim was made in respect of a motor vehicle. The Department was concerned as to whether it would have an effect on the ecology of the island and also whether it could be purchased from the Department's capital funds- perhaps from the Aboriginal Benefits Trust Fund. As a result the request was altered to the purchase of a boat. The Trust Fund assisted in the purchase of a boat. If any application is made for another vehicle consideration will be given to it.

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