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Tuesday, 3 December 1974
Page: 3009

Senator KEEFFE (QUEENSLAND) - Is the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs aware of the recent criticism made by Mr Ralph Hunt, the Opposition spokesman in the House of Representatives, that the Department of Aboriginal Affairs has been negligent in assisting the Aboriginal community at Moree in establishing a housing society? Is this a fair criticism? If not, what is the Government doing with regard to the provision of adequate accommodation for Aboriginals in Moree?

Senator CAVANAGH - I remember the statement of the Opposition spokesman in the other place. It shows he has a superficial knowledge of what this Government is doing for Aboriginals in Moree. His statement is a completely inaccurate account of the present conditions. There was no application for funds from Moree for housing until January of this year when the Moree Aboriginal Advancement Association made a request for an establishment grant of an unspecified amount and also for $ 10,000 to enable it to place deposits on houses that became available for sale. At this stage the Association was not incorporated and therefore my Department could not fund it. Departmental officers have made a number of visits to Moree to see whether we could assist in the housing activities. On 7 August Mr Neil Makkeres representing a housing company, submitted a detailed application for an establishment grant. We sent officers up there to investigate it. A further application was lodged by Mr Makkeres on 15 August following discussions with officers of my Department. That application is still being processed. We think a housing association will be established. We made available sufficient funds, via the New

South Wales Department of Housing, to acquire some 57 houses in Moree up until June of this year. We think that is a good proportion of houses. As soon as the Moree Aboriginal Advancement Association gets a housing association establishment we will be prepared to finance its housing activities.

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