Page:Aboriginal welfare 1937.djvu/27

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27

Mr. METFORD.—The cases mentioned by Mr. Neville are unknown to the department. It is difficult to trace persons who leave the reserves. If Mr. Neville will supply particulars of the cases he has mentioned, they will be inquired into.

Professor CLELAND.—The act surely intended that the word "aboriginal" should apply only to persons living in fera naturae to whom it would be ridiculous to pay the money. The term "aboriginal" should be applied only to pure-blooded aborigines, and any one with an admixture of white blond should be eligible for a pension.

Mr. METFORD.—I have no reason to believe that the word "aboriginal" implies more than its generally accepted meaning.

Mr. BAILEY.—Should not a person in whom there is not a preponderance of aboriginal blood be entitled to a pension, whether within or outside a settlement?

Mr. METFORD.—If living in a settlement he is debarred from receiving a pension.

Mr. McLEAN.—It is difficult to understand tho differentiation between a half-caste living on a station and receiving relief from a State, and a white person who also receives assistance from another State department.

Mr. PETTITT.—There are numerous instances of persons who have left reserves and are living elsewhere under shocking conditions, in order to obtain pensions which were denied to them when living under decent conditions on the reserves.

Mr. CHAPMAN.—I take it that the position is that the Commonwealth regards a half-caste who lives in a settlement as one who has accepted the status of aboriginal.

Mr. METFORD.—That is so.

Mr. CHAPMAN.—In regard to pensioners living in institutions, I understand that the pension is divided between the institution and the individual.

Mr. METFORD.—That is so. Of a total pension of 19s. a week, 5s, 6d. is paid to the individual, and 13s. 6d. to the institution for his upkeep.

Mr. CHAPMAN.—The point is that a half-caste living in a settlement is as much entitled to a pension as is a white man living in an institution practically at the expense of a State.

Mr. METFORD.—Persons living in aboriginal reserves and being treated as aborigines by the State, cannot get benefits which the Commonwealth law denies to Aborigines. This question has arisen from time to time, but the Commonwealth Government has not seen fit to change its policy.

Resolved

That all natives of less than full blood be eligible to receive invalid and old-age pensions and maternity allowance on the recommendation of the State authority to whom the grant should he made in trust for the individual.

COAST PATROLS.

Mr. NEVILLE.—Action taken by the Commonwealth Government in the last few days has clarified the situation regarding the necessity for the patrol of the north Australian coast, but I am not yet clear as to whether its decision to patrol the northern waters means that the long coastline of Western Australia will be patrolled. A study of the map will show the large number of native reserves which have to be protected in our State. The Commonwealth Government, I understand, has warned foreigners away from aboriginal reserves in the Northern Territory, but unless similar action is taken with respect to the northern coast of Western Australia a most serious situation may occur when foreigners go there. They have been there before, and they may go there again. Some aboriginal reserves in Western Australia have important settlements upon them, and at present there are no adequate means for their protection. The necessity for an efficient patrol of the coast has been before the Western Australian authorities for a long time. Many years ago, the-State tried to induce the Commonwealth to enter into a joint arrangement whereby a patrol lugger manned by a native crew and commanded by a white man, preferably a protector of aborigines, would be provided. The Commonwealth did nothing, and also failed to take action when the subject was revived a decade later. The Commonwealth, however, is now doing alone what it was asked to do in co-operation with the States, at least in respect of its own territorial waters. The vast numbers of aborigines in the northern parts of Western Australia render it imperative that the Commonwealth patrol should not he limited to the Northern Territory. It is true that, because of its ruggedness, the greater part of the northern coastline is impenetrable; but where the reserves are situated there in access to the land from the sea, so there is real danger that these areas will be penetrated by foreigners unless steps are taken to prevent their entry. The natives themselves are quite capable of putting up a stiff resistance against strangers who invade their domains. This has been displayed on numerous occasions. Since our stations have been in existence, however, there has not been much trouble. We are concerned now about the coastline. Some years ago, a white man settled near the coast on one of the reserves, and it took us nearly two years to eject him. If foreigners are able to settle on the reserves they will create havoc among the natives. Steps to prevent them from doing so are beyond the powers of police patrols, because sometimes it takes four or five months for a police patrol to reach a settlement, whereas an efficient patrol boat would soon be on the scene. I assume that the Commonwealth has jurisdiction over the three-mile limit all along the coast.

Mr. CARRODUS.—The Commonwealth acts under its customs authority.

Mr. NEVILLE.—I take it, than that the patrol vessel will be available to patrol the Western Australian coast? If that is not so, there is reason to fear a tremendous upheaval between the blacks and foreign visitors in the near future. That disturbance could take place, and it would be weeks before news of it reached civilisation. Lately, the installation of pedal wireless sets has removed much of the likelihood of trouble in the interior, but I contend that the Commonwealth should assist Western Australia by extending its patrol boat service beyond the regions of the Northern Territory.

Mr. BAILEY.—Mr. Paterson referred at the dinner the other day to the subject of the coast patrol. Evidently the Federal Government realizes responsibility in connexion with this matter, so that probably the situation will be met if we pass a short motion requesting that the patrol be extended to the coasts of the north-west of Western Australia and of northern Queensland.

Mr. CARRODUS.—The boat that is being obtained is to cost £27,000. We would have been satisfied with a smaller boat to cost about £18,000. The decision was affected by representations from, Queensland to the effect that the Queensland coast needed patrolling. The Minister for Trade and Customs made an inquiry, and it was decided to purchase a boat at a cost of £27,000, which will patrol, not only the coast of the Northern Territory, but also parts of the coast of Queensland and the north-west of Western Australian. The boat will he ready in about nine months' time. How far down the coast on either side of the Northern Territory the boat will go, I do not know. We consider that we have enough work to keep it fully occupied, but experience will show whether one boat can meet the needs of the situation.