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Thursday, 14 November 1974
Page: 2429

Senator SHEIL (Queensland) - I too rise to support the amendment moved in respect of the States Grants (Aboriginal Assistance) Bill 1974. The issues have been covered most completely and it was most heartening to hear our only Aboriginal senator issue a damning refutation of some of the charges that have been laid against the Queensland Premier and the Queensland Government today as being somewhat less than the truth. The facts of the matter are simple. Queensland has approximately onethird of the Aborigines in Australia and for many years has received approximately one-third of the revenue granted to the States for the care of Aborigines. The current Federal Treasurer (Mr Crean) allocated one-third of this amount to Queensland this time. This amount was confirmed in writing by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Cavanagh) and his Department and negotiations got so far as inter-officer consultation.

Then the Queensland Government refused to go along with the Federal Minister's plan to take over the Aboriginal reserves in Queensland. In what appeared to be a fit of pique the Minister excised that portion of the allocation that he could excise, the $3. 19m we are talking about now, from the grant to Queensland and thereupon allocated that amount, $3. 1 9m, to the other States. Queensland remonstrated about this and the Minister, apparently realising the extent of his act of discrimination against the Queensland Aborigines, suddenly decided that he could pull $3. 19m out of a trust fund and that is what he is attempting to do now. I presume that the money will come from the $9m he failed to spend on Aboriginal housing last year. It cannot be described as anything less than an act of discrimination against Queensland 's Aborigines because they are the ones who will suffer. The Minister proposed to excise the 16 Aboriginal reserves from Queensland and turn them into 16 separate States. Imagine the vastness of the administrative problems that would create, particularly if white men are not allowed to go on these areas, as was proposed. We would have our own

Berlin Wall type Australian Labor Party apartheid set-up in Australia. This, of course, was the issue which the Queensland Premier stood on in rejecting the Minister's proposals- and, I think rightly so.

The charge that was laid earlier that the Queensland Premier would not speak to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs has no basis. The Premier refused to talk to the Minister only about the Woodward report which, of course, recommended that this be done. I was fortunate lately to have been appointed a member of the Joint Committee on the Northern Territory and sent to help write new legislation for selfgovernment in the Northern Territory. The Committee visited many of the Federal Aboriginal reserves in the Territory. Of course, it had a lot of plans that it put to the Aborigines and asked how they would like to be represented in the new Northern Territory legislative assembly and sought thenviews on different electorates, different candidates and different methods of electing members. To a man on all those reserves the Aborigines rejected those plans saying: 'That would be discriminating in favour of the black man. If you discriminate in favour of us you are discriminating against the non-Aborigines '.

Senator Cavanagh - Where did you go, Senator?

Senator SHEIL - Banyili, Roper River, Nhulunbuy, Yirrkala, Maningrida, Umbakumba and plenty of other places. I was proud of the Aborigines for the way they decided that they just wanted to be Australians. They even said: 'We have a body like you, we have blood like you. We are Australians and we want to be treated as Australians. We do not want to be discriminated in favour of or against. ' On the subject of discrimination in Queensland, the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and another senator in this chamber have said that Queensland provides an outstanding example of racism. I point out that Aborigines can move to and fro on those reserves quite freely. The arrangements are completely voluntary. They seek shelter on the reserves. For an Aborigine, going on to an Aboriginal reserve is something like joining a club. There are rules to follow if one joins any club or association, just as there are rules in this Parliament and rules for belonging to the Australian Labor Party. If one wants to be in those sorts of associations one has to obey the rules. I might say that I think the rules allowing one to belong to the ALP are a lot more stringent than any that apply to Aborigines in Queensland.

Senator Milliner - What about the hospitals that are condemned?

Senator SHEIL - Which hospitals are condemned?

Senator Milliner - The one you own.

Senator SHEIL - I have never heard of that one.

Senator Milliner - What about the fire risk at Fermoy Private Hospital at Auchenflower?

Senator SHEIL - It is not condemned.

Senator Milliner - It is not? Have a look at the fire brigade report.

Senator SHEIL -It is licensed. What has that to do with Aborigines?

Senator Milliner - Have a look at the fire brigade report.

Senator SHEIL - I have seen the fire brigade report.

Senator Milliner - Do you want me to get the Hansard report?

Senator SHEIL -A11 right. The honourable senator had to revert to arguments on other subjects. That certainly shows the weakness in his argument.

Senator Rae - Tell us again of the promises the Government made to make this money available, the promises it is now breaking.

Senator SHEIL - I mentioned earlier that the Minister had actually signed that he would deliver this money but in a fit of pique he refused it.

Senator Cavanagh - Where is that?

Senator SHEIL - It is in correspondence. I can provide the Minister with the quote from the Queensland Hansard report if he wants it.

Senator Cavanagh - I think Senator Lawrie did that but he did not establish anything.

Senator SHEIL - Well, Mr Minister, try your letter. Finally I invite the Minister to send a joint parliamentary committee to Queensland to look at these places, to read the relevant Act and to see whether there is anything discriminatory going on in Queensland. I am sure he would find, to his joy, that Queensland has the best administration for Aborigines and that they are happy. Tonight we heard Senator Bonner speak in glowing terms of the Queensland Administration. I assure the Minister that he and his delegation would be most welcome to go around any of the reserves in Queensland. I support the amendment.

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