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Tuesday, 10 December 1974
Page: 3284

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Georges (QUEENSLAND) - No point of order is involved.

Senator KEEFFE - I want to refer to something else Senator Bonner said about the councils. Since the change of council on Palm Island there have been more black people in the black hole of Calcutta gaol on Palm Island than there were in the previous 6 months. People are being sentenced to imprisonment in this black hole of Calcutta by unqualified people under the rules and regulations of the 2 Queensland Acts. Why should not this Government want to see the abolition of these 2 Acts? Every free thinking Australian, black or white, wants to see all people in this country on a single basis; not first-class citizens because they are white and second-class citizens because they are black. That is exactly the way those 2 Acts discriminate. Unqualified justices of the peace are sentencing people to up to 14 days in gaol. Sometimes there are 3 prisoners to one of those tiny cells, without blankets, without sheets of any description and with a plastic bucket for toilet purposes. It is not good enough. What we saw at Doomadgee recentlySenator Bonner would realise this- is a gaol that at least will be a little more comfortable than that shocking damned thing that is on Palm Island.

Senator Poyser - Is this true?

Senator KEEFFE - Of course it is true. Every single thing is true. It is only three or four years since seven and eight year old kids were locked up in the little black dungeons on the ends of the dormitories. This sort of system of law should have been abolished years ago. Why the Opposition should want to perpetuate this sort of thing is quite beyond my comprehension.

The final thing I want to say is that the further discrimination that has been practised in Queensland is illustrated in the figures of the Department of Health. These figures are completely unchallengeable. In 1973-74 the Australian Government allocated to the Queensland Government for Aboriginal advancement programs $9,957,000, of which $2,243,000 was for approved Aboriginal health programs. But in the following year, 1974-75, the Australian Government allocated $10,362,000. The sum of $2,439,300 was for the health program, with a further $1,664,000 for community aid projects. Actual expenditure in Queensland on Aboriginal health projects during 1973-74 from funds provided by the Australian Government was only $835,523. Had that money been allocated for white people every penny of it would have been spent and the Queensland Government would have been back here asking for more. But because it is allocated for black people it has gone into cold storage or somewhere. At the end of June 1974 almost $2. 4m of the allocations made by the Australian Government in 1972-73 and 1973-74 remained unexpended.

I do not want to say more. I think I have highlighted the sort of discrimination being practised against Aborigines by the Queensland Government and by the Queensland Department of Aboriginal and Island Affairs. It is a blot on democracy in this nation that we have people in this chamber who want to perpetuate this sort of system. The Bill as presented by the Minister ought to be passed in toto without any amendments or deletions.

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