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Thursday, 6 December 1973
Page: 2605

Senator LAWRIE (QUEENSLAND) -The Australian Country Party does not oppose this Bill. But as had been pointed out already, a very large sum of money is being spent by way of State grants under section 96 of the Constitution. Apparently, the States have control over the spending of this money although they have to account to the Commonwealth for what they spend. It is strange that the Northern Territory should be included in a States Grants Bill and included in all the schedules that are attached to it. Large sums have been provided for expenditure in the Northern Territory. The areas in which the $32,250,000 to be paid to the States is to be spent is spelt out in great detail. Some of the amounts are quite small. Some should be checked a little to see that there is no waste. I notice that in some areas substantial sums are being invested in cattle properties. I hope that some form of overseeing is undertaken if the management is to be in the hands of the Aboriginal people to help them and to give them guidance.

Quite a lot of money is to be spent on housing. I suppose that the biggest single item for expenditure is for houses that are to be constructed pretty well all over Australia. I notice that $205,257 has been provided to develop a cattle project in the Northern Territory. It is proposed to spend $198,720 to develop a similar cattle project at Unia. The acquisition of Willowra Station will cost $325,000 and phase one of a development program for Roper River will cost $336,000. Then there is the matter which has been under discussion in the Senate already concerning Applied Ecology Pty Ltd for which $430,000 has been allocated. I do not know what is the position in regard to that. I do not know whether we will approve of it now or whether it will be held up for further discussion or investigation. There is another matter in which I am just a little interested. One of the islands in the Tones Strait-I think that it is St Paul Islandhas a wolfram mine. I do noi know whether it is producing or whether any great investigation has been made into it. But there is an item of expenditure for $20,000 for a manager's salary and operating expenses. I would like to know who is the manager and whether this is a viable proposition.

There are quite a lot of smaller amounts spelt out in great detail which are to be expended all over Australia, including the Northern Territory, even though this is a States Grants Bill. During the hearing of a Senate Estimates Committee we were told that an effort was being made to teach various Aboriginal dialects in schools in the Northern Territory. We were told that there were special sections in these schools and that there were many, although I do not know how many, of these dialects in the Northern Territory. I asked a question in regard to this because I was interested in how the dialects were committed to paper. The answer I received was that there was a system of phonetic spelling and that they even had trouble when they came to spell some of the words on a typewriter. It was very interesting to see that this way of life and language is being preserved with this type of teaching. An enormous number of specialists will be needed for this work. Generally speaking, we support the Bill, but we appeal for full supervision and checking of expenditure to see that the' money is spent wisely, with as little waste as possible.

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