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Tuesday, 10 December 1974
Page: 3258

Senator McAULIFFE (QUEENSLAND) - I refer the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs to a statement he made last Thursday that he had approved a grant of $6,000 to the Palm Island Co-operative for the establishment of a fruit and vegetable agricultural project. Has he seen a statement in the Brisbane 'Courier-Mail' by a Mr J. V. Dillon, a District Officer of the Queensland Department of Aboriginal and Island Affairs, in which he was reported as declaring that the Palm Island Cooperative could not accept the funds because a co-operative did not exist? Is there any truth in this statement or in Mr Dillon's claim that the Co-operative failed to attract any interest among the Palm Island community?

Senator CAVANAGH (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs) -Yes, I saw the article. I think it was released just prior to the Queensland election. I am led to believe that Mr

Dillon is the manager for the Department of Aboriginal and Island Affairs in relation to Palm Island. I believe that the release would suggest that the Government was not generous to Palm Island in that it was making a grant which could not be used. This grant was a normal establishment allowance for a co-operative. We find that we have to give to a greater degree in Queensland than in other States in order to overcome the lack of activity to assist Aborigines in that State.

As for this particular grant, on 27 November officers of my Department attended a meeting of the directors of the co-operative and their solicitor for the purpose of forming a co-operative on Palm Island. They had 49 shareholders in the cooperative and they assured my Department that by Christmas they could raise the number to 100 shareholders. So the co-operative does really exist. I believe that, as result of the false information, the solicitor is now giving the shareholders advice as to whether that statement is having any detrimental effect on the co-operative, which is a very active one. Payment of the money has been approved. The co-operative does exist. This statement is one of the many false statements that emanate from the Queensland Department of Aboriginal and Island Affairs.

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