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Thursday, 14 November 1974
Page: 2368

Senator KEEFFE (QUEENSLAND) - My question is directed to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. In the light of recent problems that the Minister has encountered in obtaining properly audited statements of expenditure from the Aboriginal Legal Service in New South Wales, can the Minister inform the Senate whether he has encountered similar problems with the Queensland Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders Legal Service? What funds are presently available to that Legal Service in Queensland and in which areas of the State does the Service now operate?

Senator CAVANAGH (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs) -The answer to the first part of the question is no. We have had great cooperation from and satisfaction with the Queensland Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders Legal Service which is operating throughout Queensland. We have received the final audited accounts of the Service and the audited accounts contain no qualifications. Last year a grant of some $325,000 was made to the Legal Service in Queensland. So far this year we have issued an interim grant of $174,000 to take the Service up to the end of October. At present the Legal Service in Queensland has 8 offices, one each in Brisbane, Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville, Mt Isa, Charleville, the far northern and the south-eastern areas. We have received and perused its audited budget for 1974-75 and it appears to be reasonable considering the wide area traversed by that Legal Service. Last year in Queensland 730 legal cases were handled by the Service and some of these involved the employment of outside solicitors. There were some 766 further cases handled by the Service which never proceeded to court hearings. After considering the audited accounts of the Service and its budget for 1974-75, some $523,000, less the $174,000 which has already been granted by way of interim grant, will be made available to the Queensland Service.

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