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Wednesday, 14 November 1973
Page: 1815

Senator MULVIHILL (New South Wales) - I rise only to associate myself with the sentiments that have been expounded by Senator Little on the conduct of the Senate Standing Committee on Social Environment and its investigation into the conditions of Aborigines. I was not present when the Committee visited the Lockhart River region, but I have been with Senator Keeffe and my other Committee colleagues on at least 3 other visits that that Committee has made to Queensland. Evidence taken by the Committee can be at times highly charged with emotion. Senator Keeffe has been scrupulously fair in insisting that people buttress assertions with facts. Also, I am not unaware of the quite unfortunate underground movement that has operated against Senator Keeffe. On one occasion, on another assignment, I visited Mt Isa. My visit had nothing to do with the work of that Committee. I met a couple of officers of the Queensland Department of Aboriginal Affairs. It was obvious to me that they had a completely false image of Senator Keeffe.

I go on record as saying that the Committee has not jumped to any false conclusions. On the contrary, Senator Keeffe has had to use a high degree of firmness when he felt a witness was going to extreme lengths when appearing before the Committee. The Committee has operated at a most objective level. None of the utterances in the Queensland Parliament do a service to the Aboriginal cause. I do not think that they have done a service to the standard that we would expect from any parliament, even the Queensland Parliament.

Senator Cavanagh - I ask for leave to make a statement.

The PRESIDENT - Order! The Minister does not need to seek leave.

Senator Cavanagh - Yes, I do. I have spoken to the adjournment motion already.

The PRESIDENT - Very well. Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.

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