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Tuesday, 24 September 1974
Page: 1288

Senator BONNER (QUEENSLAND) - I preface my question, which is directed to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, by referring to a statement in the Queensland 'Courier Mail' newspaper of 21 September 1974, which was attributed to Senator Cavanagh, the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, concerning the Australian Government's intended acquisition of some 7,500,000 acres of land currently reserved by the Queensland Government for use by Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders. If the Minister is so concerned about Aboriginal land rights in Queensland, is he prepared to go to the extent of moving that so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent my motion, as introduced on Thursday, 19 September 1974, from being fully debated and voted upon? Should it be carried, with or without the support of the Minister, would he be prepared to urge his Government to introduce legislation to implement the proposals contained in my motion?

Senator CAVANAGH (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs) -The report in the Courier Mail ' newspaper was correct. As a result of the speech Senator Bonner made last Thursday, I think I can state that what the Government intends to do will receive his ready support. The honourable senator made a very emotional speech acknowledging Aboriginal land rights. I think that we are in unity to see that the Aborigines get those land rights in Queensland, as Aborigines in every other State of Australia will receive them. The position is that the motion moved last Thursday by Senator Bonner, if carried, will be an expression of opinion of the Senate. It will not achieve anything more than that. It is not a method of acquiring land from a reluctant Premier who will not give land to Aborigines. It is the intention of the Federal Government to do something positive. The Aborigines in Queensland should not be worse off, by virtue of the fact that they have a Premier elected by a minority vote, than Aborigines in other parts of the country who live in States in which there is properly elected majority rule in the State Parliaments. We shall give to the Aborigines in Queensland- I hope with Senator Bonner's supportthe same rights as they have in every other State of the Commonwealth.

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