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Wednesday, 21 November 1973
Page: 1958

Senator McLAREN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I direct to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs a question which follows upon a question asked earlier today about an amount of $400,000 that was paid by the previous Government for prefabricated cottages under the Aboriginal self-help housing scheme, which houses failed to meet specifications. Can the Minister assure the Senate that the present Australian Government will take more care in safeguarding not only the welfare of the Aboriginal community in regard to its housing needs but also the public purse?

Senator CAVANAGH - Since Senator Laucke raised this question, some briefing notes on the matter have been supplied. As stated in the Press today, it involved the supply of some 34 houses, I believe in 1970, to provide housing for Aborigines in the Northern Territory under the then Minister for the Interior. The scheme involved the provision of houses at Roper River, Hooker Creek and Bamyili. They were to be erected on site, with 20 hours of voluntary labour to be given each week to each project. When the houses arrived the labour was not available. Whilst there was a contract for the transport of the houses, they were dumped because there was no notification of the time of arrival. The houses were simply left on the ground. The unsatisfactory features of the management of the then Northern Territory Administration, which is now part of the Department of the Northern Territory, were mentioned by the Auditor-General to the Joint Committee of Public Accounts. The report in today's Press is based on the evidence given to the Committee. Of the houses at Bamyili five are virtually completed and four are 80 per cent completed. At Hookers Creek 5 houses are 80 per cent completed and 5 houses are 10 per cent completed. At Roper River 15 houses are 20 per cent completed. They are now being completed by the Aboriginal housing associations. What happened under the previous administration of the Northern Territory will not happen today because of the formation of the Aboriginal housing co-operative societies which we fund. We get the Aborigines to erect the houses when the materials arrive at the site.

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