PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 2643


Photo of McMahon, William

McMahon, William

Period of Service: 10/03/1971 to 05/12/1972

More information about McMahon, William on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 12/07/1972

Release Type: Broadcast

Transcript ID: 2643

CH, I p 12 JULY 1972
Good Eveninr: Next Friday is National Aborigines Day throughout Australia.
Recently I talked to large numbers of aboriginal
leaders in the Northern Territory and the Kimberley. I was able
to discuss with t--hem face to face how they felt about the assistance
we are giving and the directions in which we are moving.
S ince the last National Aborigines Day twelve months ago,
there has been a steady and significant development of Commonwealth
policy and objectives for the aboriginal people. So now I want to
outline to you some of the objectives of the Commonwealth policies
as they affect aborigines.
The most important development was the five point statement
I made on Australia Day, six months ago, setting out my Government's
* olicies for aboriginal citizens. Those points are worth recalling
now when our attention can be focused on the one day of the year
when we can look at the problems and prospects for Australia's own
aboriginal population. It is very important that we should try to
understand the aims and directions of national policy.
First, we want to ensure that aborigines have free and
unimpeded access to the rights and privileges-of our society.
Next, we want to encou-rage and assist aborigines to keep and
develop their own culture as a worthwhile and wholesome part of
Australian life. That is, we want to emphasise that every aborigine
has the right to say how closely and how soon he will become
integrated into the mainstream of Australian society. We think
this is more likely to happen when aborigines retain their own identity
and traditions and their own culture. The concept of separate ./ 2

development as a long term aim is alien to our objectives.
The Liberal/ Country Party Government's objectives must be
based on programmes which take notice of the wishes and the
aspirations of the aborigines themselves, which provide the
opportunities to develop their own personalities and abilities and
which involve the aboriginal people themselves in formulating the
policy program-mes.
Our fourth objective is to make certain the Government's
programmes encourage aboriginal citizens to manage their own affairs
as much as practicable so that they can improve their potential
and participate fully in national progress, and that handicaps for
aborigines in health, in housing and in education, and in vocational
training may be steadily reduced.
Lastly, we want to get rid of the few remaining laws which
discriminate against aborigines.
Those are the five objectives of the Australia Day statement.
I cannot emphasise strongly enough that this statement means that
Australians as a nation, and through their national Government,
recognise that aborigines have a great many problems and difficulties
not faced by others.
And I assure you it means we have shouldered the burden.
It means we will see that aboriginal citizens have the opportunities
to reach at least the same standards of living and education as are
enjoyed by all other Australians.
Since the 1967 Referendum on the question of Federal
responsibility for aboriginal policy, special funds have been
established concerned with aboriginal housing, health, education,
employment and business enterprises. In the financial year just
ended, direct national expenditure on aboriginal advancement was
nearly $ 45 million.
We intend to create a new form of leaseholding on aboriginal
reserves to assist in land rights. There is a new mining code
setting up guidelines for mining on abcriginal reserves. And I
want to emphasise because it is not always clearly understood
that these reserves are not only very extensive, covering an area
nearly as great as Victoria, in the Northern Territory alone, but
that the reserves are of permanent duration for the aboriginal
people themselves. We have allocated $ 5 million in the first year of the scheme
to buy land outside reserves for aboriginal groups. We are
currently considering an offer to acquire land for one aboriginal
group in this way. Wie will delineate and protect land for
aboriginal religious and ceremonial purposes. ./ 3

One of the grouns I visited at the beginninq of this
month was the Yirrkala at Gove in the Northern Territory.
They are receiving directly 10 ner cent of royalties from the
nearby bauxite and alumina development as a result of the
Australia Day decisions.
I recently announced the first royalty payment of about
$ 21,500 to the Yirrkala and as time goes on, the total
aborigines' royalty from the Gove project will reach $ 1 million
a year. After meeting and having the pleasure of associating with
them, it is fair to say that they believe they are being
satisfactorily treated.
After I came back south, one of the most important of
their leaders sent me a message rejecting press reports about
agitation to send several aborigines to Switzerland in protest
against the mining venture. I thought that indicated their
attitude pretty clearly.
As a nation we have a long road ahead in ensuring that
our aboriginal citizens take their rightful place in our society.
Since 1967, we have been taking more and more vigorous action
towards this aim.
I believe we have been doing so sincerely, wisely and
f he real benefit of the Australian aborigines themselves.
co urse that I hope all Australians will wholeheartedly
s ibet.

Transcript 2643