Page:Aboriginal welfare 1937.djvu/21

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are careless about the ultimate fate of the full bloods. I would not like an idea to get abroad that there is any suggestion of a deliberate attempt on the part of the Conference to hurry up the detribalization of the full bloods. There are sentimental and scientific reasons why such a course would be very unwise. We would achieve exactly the same object in the ultimate if we dealt first with natives of less than full blood. I am sure that very vigorous objections would he taken by scientists to any attempt to hasten the detribalization of the full-blooded aborigines, for they are unique and one of the wonders of the world. Very general and strong opposition would he raised to any deliberate attempt to detribalize the full bloods.

Mr. CARRODUS.—I agree to some extent with what Professor Cleland has said. It would be desirable for us to deal first with the people of mixed blood. Ultimately, if history is repeated, the full bloods will become half-castes.

Mr. BAILEY.—I think there is a good deal in what Professor Cleland and Mr. Carrodus have said. Perhaps we could find some term that will make the distinction that we wish to observe, and yet define the broad principle that we have in mind.

Mr. NEVILLE.—If we can find a term that will apply to people of mixed blood I shall he satisfied.

Resolved

That this Conference believes that the destiny of the natives of aboriginal origin, but not of the full blood, lies in their ultimate absorption by the people of the Commonwealth and it therefore recommends that all efforts be directed to that end.

Mr. BAILEY.—The next question to consider is how this state of affairs is to be brought about. Mr. Neville has suggested that the administration of the natives can best be carried out under the direction of the individual States concerned, but with adequate financial assistance from the Commonwealth.

Mr. CARRODUS.—I think that any request for financial assistance from the Commonwealth should be embodied in a separate motion. As for the suggestion that the Commonwealth might take over the activities of the States in regard to the protection of aborigines, it was decided at the last Premiers Conference that such action would be impracticable and undesirable.

Mr. NEVILLE.—So long as we are agreed on broad principles, the details of administration had best be left to the various States.

Resolved

That the details of administration, in accordance with the general principles agreed upon, be left to the individual States, but there shall be uniformity of legislation as far as possible.

Resolved

That, subject to the previous resolution, efforts of all State authorities should be directed towards the education of children of mixed aboriginal blood at white standards, and their subsequent employment under the same conditions as whites with a view to their taking their place in the white community on an equal footing with the whites.

Mr. HARKNESS.—Are half-castes, on an average, capable of being educated up to white standards? In our State, we have a special syllabus for such children which does not take them beyond the ordinary standard for a white child of nine years of age, but emphasis is laid on teaching them the mechanical arts. We assume that they have not the ability of the ordinary white child.

COOK.-In the Northern Territory, we have found that, given equal chances, the average half-caste is not inferior in mental ability to the average white child. It is true that the percentage of children of outstanding ability may be higher amongst the whites, but the half-caste has sufficient intelligence to give him the right to demand equal opportunity. In the past, we also had a special syllabus which brought the half-castes up to the standard of white children of about twelve years of age, but experience has shown us that they are capable of going beyond that.

DEFINITION OF NATIVE.

Mr. CHAPMAN.—I think it is desirable that the Conference should agree upon a suggested definition of "natives".

Mr. NEVILLE.—In the West Australian Act, the position is set forth very clearly. One section states that—

There shall be a department under the Minister to be called the Department of Native Affairs, and to be charged with the duty of promoting the welfare of the natives, providing them with food, clothing, medicine, and medical attendance, when they would otherwise be destitute, providing for the education of native children and generally assisting in the preservation and well-being of the natives.

Another section defines "native" as follows:—

"Native" means—

(a) any person of full-blood descended from the original inhabitants of Australia;

(b) subject to the exceptions stated in this definition any person of less than full-blood who is descended from the original inhabitants of Australia or from their full-blooded descendants, excepting, however, any person who is—

(1) a quadroon under 21 years of age who neither associates with or lives substantially after the manner of the class of persons mentioned in paragraph (a) in this definition unless such quadroon is ordered by a magistrate to be classified under this act;

(2) a quadroon over 21 years of age, unless that person is by order of a magistrate ordered to he classed as a native under this act, or requests that he be classed as a native under this act; and

(3) a person of less than quadroon blood who was born prior to the 31st day of December, 1936, unless such person expressly applies to be brought under this act and the Minister consents . . .

Mr. McLEAN.—Even after five or six generations, the progeny of the continued marriages of half-castes will still be half-castes.

Mr. NEVILLE.—Yes. But there is provision to exempt them from the act. All cases are judged on their merits. The provision covering such cases is as follows:—

The Minister may issue to any native who, in his opinion, ought not to be subject to this act, a certificate in writing under his hand that such native is exempt from the provisions of this act, and from and after the issue of such certificate such native shall be so exempt accordingly;

But any such certificate may be revoked at any time by the Minister, and thereupon this act shall apply to such native as if no such certificate had been issued.

Provided that any native who is aggrieved on account of the refusal by the Minister to grant such certificate or of the revocation by the Minister of his certificate under this section may appeal to a magistrate in the magisterial district in which he resides. The magistrate may make such order regarding the issue or revocation of the certificate as in his opinion the justice of the case requires, and such order shall be given effect by the Minister. Such appeal shall be in accordance with the regulations, which may prescribe the time for appealing and the procedure to he followed.

Mr. BLEAKLEY.—The Queensland law extends a similar privilege to half-castes, but not to full-blooded aborigines. Western Australia is also ahead of Queensland in that it makes provision for appeal against the Minister's decision.

Mr. NEVILLE.—In Western Australia, the Minister exercises the prerogative of the Crown and can act contrary to the opinion of the department. He has the power to withdraw the privilege, if it is abused, and has done so.

Resolved

That the definition of "native" in any uniform legislation adopted by other States or the Commonwealth, be based on the definition contained in the Native Administration Act, 1905-1936 of the State of Western Australia.