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Thursday, 15 November 1973
Page: 1828

Senator YOUNG (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Is the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs aware that for the last few years some 90 Aborigines from Ernabella and Hermannsburg missions and Amata and Indulkana reserves have been going to the River Murray area in South Australia to work during the fruitpicking season and have been earning between $60 and $90 per week for 8 weeks or more? Is the Minister also aware that the South Australian Community Welfare Department received a grant of $ 1 5,000 each year from the Department of Aboriginal Affairs to supervise the welfare of the Aborigines during the fruit harvest? Is it a fact that this year the $ 1 5,000 grant was returned because the Community Welfare Department was not continuing its supervisory role? Is it also a fact that the Department of Labour was prepared to take over the role as long ago as last August, to make sure that the Aborigines were employed, but that it has had no reply from the Department of Aboriginal Affairs? As the Minister has recently taken over the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, will he straighten out this bungling by the Department which could affect the employment of some 90 Aborigines?

Senator CAVANAGH - I do not think that there has been any bungling by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. The money was voted each year for the welfare of the Aborigines who were placed on fruit-picking ventures along the Murray River. As a result of reports which we received and complaints about the behaviour or treatment of Aborigines, this year the $15,000 was not made available. It is not a question of the money being returned; it was not paid to the

Community Welfare Department in South Australia for this purpose. Of course, the question is one of supplying labour rather than anything else. It is an appropriate payment for the Department of Labour rather than the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. That is the explanation. The Department of Aboriginal Affairs has discontinued that payment. It has been taken up by the Department of Labour, which is anxious to supply labour for the fruit growers, rather than the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, which is concerned with the employment of Aborigines. It is thought by the Department of Labour that the money could be utilised better by it, and it would not have the complaints that were received about this venture in the past.

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