Page:Aboriginal welfare 1937.djvu/22

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RETURN OF ABORIGINES TO HOME STATE.

Mr. CHAPMAN.—I think that discretionary power should exist for State authorities to return to his home State any aboriginal who is temporarily resident in another State. In, Victoria, we have had unfortunate experiences of natives coming across the border from another State in order to avoid disciplinary action by that State, or what they might consider to be painful medical treatment imposed upon them. We have no power to return them to their home State, unless they happen to be vagrants.

Mr. BLEAKLEY.—In Queensland we have had similar trouble.

Mr. NEVILLE.—In Western Australia we do not differentiate between States, or between aborigines. We call them all natives of Australia. We have power to take any native from any one part of the State to any other part, or even to put him across the border. Frequently, natives come from other States into Western Australia, but we can always put them out of the State if we desire to do so.

Dr. COOK.—In the Territory we define "aboriginal" as an aboriginal native of Australia.

Mr. CHAPMAN.—Our difficulty is that natives who come from another State are not under our jurisdiction. The only time they can be forcibly returned to their place of origin is when they have committed a crime, and an order for their expulsion is issued by a magistrate.

Dr. MORRIS.—It is not intended to prevent bona fide migration of natives?

Mr. CHAPMAN.—No. All that is required is discretionary power to deal with undesirables.

Mr. NEVILLE.—It is a fundamental principle of the Constitution that there shall be free intercourse between the States. In Western Australia, we sometimes receive at the Kalgoorlie Hospital South Australian natives who are conveyed on the trans-Australian railway. They receive exactly the same treatment as do our own natives, but South Australia, of course, is saddled with the cost.

Mr. PETTITT.—The position is met in New South Wales by the following provision in the law:—

8a (1.) Where an aborigine or a person apparently having an admixture of aboriginal blood is, in the opinion of the board living in insanitary or undesirable conditions, a stipendiary or police magistrate may, on the application of the board, order such aborigine or person to remove to a reserve or place controlled by the board, or, if such aborigine or person is but temporarily resident in this State, to return to the State whence he came within a time specified in the order.

(2.) Any such order may on a like application be cancelled or varied by the same or another stipendiary or police magistrate.

(3.) Until such an order is cancelled every aborigine or other person named therein in that behalf shall be and remain under the control of the board while he is in this State.

Mr. CHAPMAN.—That meets the position, no doubt, in New South Wales, but a similar provision is needed in the legislation of the other States and in the Commonwealth law. During the centenary celebrations in Melbourne, solely in the interests of the aborigines in Lake Tyers, we refused to allow a concert party from that station to visit Melbourne. At the same time, a troup of aboriginal minstrels from New South Wales, despite all our efforts to prevent them, came to the celebrations. Later, they were found engaged in a drunken melee in front of one of the city's leading hotels. The newspapers criticized the authorities for failure to control the aborigines, but we had no power over them, and had no means whereby we could have them sent back to New South Wales. Of course, if a native visitor is a decent fellow, we do not want to send him back.

Resolved

That provision be made to give discretionary power to return to his home State any aboriginal temporarily resident in another State.

ADMINISTRATION.

Mr. NEVILLE.—I move—

That in the interests of the natives of Australia the principle contained in section 4 of the Native Administration Act of Western Australia be adopted.

Motion lapsed for want of a seconder, after several delegates had pointed out that each State already had similar legislation.

SUPPLY OF LIQUOR AND DRUGS T0 NATIVES.

Mr. CHAPMAN.—I move—

That it be an offence to supply intoxicating liquor or drugs to any native.

In some States methylated spirits is included in the definition of "liquor".

Mr. NEVILLE.—I second the motion. This matter is largely one of definition. Before the act of Western Australia was amended it was easy for a half-caste to obtain liquor, but an altered definition of "native" improved the situation considerably. Section 48 of the act reads—

(l) Any person who sells, supplies, or gives any fermented spirituous or other intoxicating liquor, in any quantity whatsoever, either alone or mixed with any other substance, or any opium, to any native shall be guilty of an offence and liable, on summary conviction, to a penalty not exceeding One hundred pounds or to any term of imprisonment not exceeding six months, or to both.

Until recently the control of the supply of liquor to natives was one of our greatest difficulties. There was always conflict between the Licensing Act and the Aborigines Act. Now, the only natives who can obtain liquor are those who have been definitely exempted by the Minister. The Western Australian legislation is operating successfully.

Dr. COOK.—In the Northern Territory Ordinance we go further than the Western Australian legislation. Section 23 (7) provides—

A licence shall not be issued to any person to employ aborigines on any premises in respect of which a publican's licence or a storekeeper's licence, granted under the law for the time being in force in the territory relating to the supply of intoxicating liquors, is in force.

In 1930 the ordinance was amended to enable a half-caste to drink in hotels, on the production of a certificate of exemption from the Chief Protector. A half-caste may now be exempted from the liquor provisions of the ordinance, although he remains under the ordinance for other purposes. The amendment was found desirable, because many half-castes of a superior type who had been provided with homes, for which they were paying, resented the imputation that they were a subject race, and not entitled to accompany their friends when taking refreshment. It was desirable to grant them this privilege without sacrificing the power to manage their estates until they became solvent. If they abuse the privilege, the exemption is withdrawn. For some time I opposed the amendment, but as the then existing ordinance tended to make them regard the Chief Protector as an enemy rather than as a friend, I agreed to it.

The drinking of methylated spirits is a problem in the Northern Territory. This spirit has been ruled to be not within the definition of "intoxicating liquor". A special ordinance was passed making it an offence for any person to supply methylated spirits to aboriginals or to drink it. The provision applies to whites as well as to blacks.

Mr. BLEAKLEY.—The legislation of Western Australia contains similar provisions prohibiting the supply of liquor or poisons to aborigines. In respect of liquor, the penalty ranges from a minimum of £20 to a maximum of £50. The penalty in respect of opium is £100 or three months' imprisonment for the first offence, and six months' imprisonment, without the option of a fine, for a second offence. In respect of other poisons, such as morphia, cocaine, and chlorodyne, the penalty is £50. There is also provision to