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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 5633

DOORSTOP: PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA (WORLD COUNCIL OF CHURCHES REPORT)

Photo of Fraser, Malcolm

Fraser, Malcolm

Period of Service: 11/11/1975 to 11/03/1983

More information about Fraser, Malcolm on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 11/08/1981

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 5633

PRESS OFFICE TRANSCRIPT TUESDAY, 11 AUGUST, 1981
DOORSTOP: PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA ( WORLD COUNCIL OF CHURCHES
REPORT) Question report by the World Council of Churches on Aborigines.
Prime Minister
No, I think only to support really-what Senator Baume.. said'on
ABC this morning. I have not read or studied the report yet.
Obviously the Government will be, but I think from the public
reports that have come out the report misses the fact that
Aboriginal people are not only entitled to all the programmes
available to all other Australians, that Governments are in fact
operating many programmes specifically designed to help
Aboriginal people. we have set in place programmes of Aboriginal
self-management. The Development Fund which Charles Perkins heads
is an innovation which was hailed by the Aboriginal people as
a great advance, giving them control over many facets of their
own operations. In addition to this, the idea of self-management
rather than of State paternalism is one which I think is very
important in Australia.-and one which, as I understand it, is
supported by Aboriginal people. So, whether these matters are
covered in the report or not I do not know, but the press reports
so far of the report seem to pay no attention to the very
extensive efforts by Governments to improve the circumstances of
the Aboriginal people. I have said publicly in other places thj-at
Australia was late in the day in starting. I think Paul Hasluck
wari the first Minister who really began to introduce programmeS
that would improve the well-being of Aboriginal people. We could
well have argued we should have started 50 or 60 or 70 years ago,
instead of 20 or 30 years ago. But very significant strides. have
in fact been made over recent times.
Question In light of what you say are omissions in the report, do you th~ ink
your Government could be embarrassed.
Prime Minister
I am saying I have not studied the report, so I do not know whether
these matters which. I.-have mentioned are in fact covered in the
report or not.
Question Well that aside, do you think your Government could be embarrassed
by circulation of the report at the Commornwealth Heads of
Government Meeting?

I a -2-
Prime Minister
No, I do not. I do not really because I think many people who
are coming to that meeting understand and know the policies
that are being pursued by this particular Government. The
problems are by no means unique to Australia. They are shared in
a number of countries in a number of places. It needs to be
understood that programmes of health, . programmes of education,
programmes in housing designed specifically to support the
Aboriginal people are very real ones. They are not the paternalistic
State-managed programmes of older days saying. " this is what is
good for you". They are programmes that seek to involve Aboriginal
people in their own self-management and self-determination within
Australian society. All of that is good in Australian policy.
Nobody can pretend and nobody suggests that some of the very real
difficulties in this area can be resolved in a day or a week. It is
going to take time. I have said on a number of occasions over -recent
years. that Australia was late in the day in starting but over the
last 20 years in particular very great progress has been made and
we are doing what we can to make up for lost time.
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Transcript 5633