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Tuesday, 10 December 1974
Page: 3284

Senator LAWRIE (QUEENSLAND) - I want to say a few words on this Bill. When the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Cavanagh) was replying in the second reading debate he mentioned something about this having been an election issue and that now that it was not an election issue we could treat it possibly in a different manner. Never at any stage was this an election issue in Queensland. This Bill has been on the notice paper for some time and the election in Queensland has not affected it at all. The Minister tried to explain the position in relation to clause 6, particularly as it applied to permits to go onto reserves. In one breath he says that he wants permits removed completely; in the next he says that the people on the reserves will still be able to control their reserves and say who comes on them. That seems haywire to me.

Senator Poyser - When did he say that?

Senator LAWRIE (QUEENSLAND) - He said that this morning. The honourable senator will read it in Hansard tomorrow if he would like to check it.

Senator Milliner - When did he say it?

Senator LAWRIE (QUEENSLAND) - When closing the second reading debate.

Senator Poyser - This is your misconception of what he said.

Senator LAWRIE (QUEENSLAND) - It might be but Senator Poyser can read it in Hansard in the morning if he wants to. The Minister said he wanted the restrictions removed but then says that the people on the reserves will be able to say who comes in. Why remove the restrictions if this sort of thing is to go on? It does not make sense to me at all.

The next matter I want to refer to is a statement, I think last week, by the PostmasterGeneral (Senator Bishop) about some telegrams which were alleged by the Minister or the Postmaster-General's Department to have been charged to the Queensland Department of Aboriginal Affairs. I have checked on the position and found that most of the outpost radios run from Thursday Island, particularly, from the Peninsula, the islands and elsewhere, are run by the State Department and the Postmaster-General's own regulations will not permit it to accept telegrams from that radio network unless they are charged to departmental accounts. They have to be charged to the telephone number of the Queensland Department. Yet the PostmasterGeneral comes along and says that they were charged to the account of the State department when his own regulations say that they have to be charged in that way. That effectively clears up the point about them being paid for by the Queensland Department.

I had a call from Les Stewart yesterday. Les Stewart, as honourable senators probably know, is chairman of the combined councils of the various settlements and reserves in Queensland. He asked me to plead with the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs not to go on with this clause on the abolition of permits to enter reserves. He said it would destroy the whole way of life on these reserves and he asked me two or three times to plead with the Minister not to go on with the clause. He said that the Minister did not understand the position fully and he asked me to pass this message on. He said to me: 'If you cannot do that, at least throw these clauses out'. He was speaking for the combined councils in Queensland and spoke certainly with some authority. To say that he is not a duly elected representative of the Cherbourg settlement, as honourable senators opposite are trying to make out, is, I think, absolutely wrong.

I propose to support the deletion of clauses 6 and 7 in order to let the people of Queensland continue to manage their own affairs. The people elected to the councils are democratically elected, despite what Senator Keeffe says. They should continue to say who can and who cannot go on to the reserves. Mr Stewart said that no relatives of people who live on the reserves had been refused entry to the reserves. I believe that will be the position if the law is left as it is. I believe that the present position should continue to exist whereby the State Government has undertaken to listen to the representations made by the people on the reserves. The State Government has listened to all representations made to it and has given the Aborigines nearly everything they want. Most of the Bill is redundant. I think clauses 6 and 7 should be thrown out.

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