Page:Aboriginal welfare 1937.djvu/29

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bodies throughout the Commonwealth which interest themselves in the aborigine. Probably, when it is proposed to hold another conference of this kind, similar requests for representation will be made, and we must decide whether to accede to them or not. For instance, are we to admit representatives of the missions and of anthropological societies, &c.? My opinion is that future conferences should be conducted in the same way as this one; that they should be attended by the representatives of the various Governments, men who are paid to do this work, and who are familiar with it. If we extended the scope of representation we should have all sorts of warring factions present at the conference. Some anthropologists may be in violent opposition to the missionaries, and it would be impossible to achieve any unanimity. If these societies and bodies wish to put forward recommendations they can be submitted to these conferences which will prove to be a fine sifting ground. My department and, I am sure, those of all State Governments, will at all times be pleased to receive these suggestions, and submit them to future conferences for consideration, but it is important that the findings of the Conference should be those of Government representatives so that they will be authoritative.

Mr. BLEAKLEY.—I agree with what Mr. Carrodus has said. If we extended the scope of representation, the Conference would be swamped with arm-chair experts who would take control of proceedings out of the hands of the representatives of responsible departments.

Mr. NEVILLE.—There ought to be a permanent secretariat to whom these outside authorities could submit recommendations and suggestions.

Mr. CARRODUS.—We are prepared to take on that work. As soon as the communications are received they will be circulated to all the State authorities, and subsequently the proceedings of the Conference will be printed and circulated to those bodies which have submitted recommendations.


That future Conferences should consist of representatives of Protectors and Governmental Boards.


Mr. CARRODUS.—It is the policy of the Commonwealth Government that there shall be no economic development of aboriginal reserves, but we recognize that there are difficulties in the way of enforcing such a policy. If a prospector discovers a valuable gold mine in a reserve, the force of public opinion would possibly compel the Government to allow the mine to be exploited. That is why we try to prevent prospectors going into such areas. I should like to hear an expression of opinion from other representatives as to whether, in their opinion, that is a right policy to pursue. At the present time, all kinds of people are seeking permission to go into the reserves, and what are we to do? Very strong influence is being brought to bear just now to allow a party to go through the southern part of our reserves into Western Australia on a prospecting expedition. It would help us if we were to obtain an expression of opinion from this Conference as to what should be the policy regarding economic development of aboriginal reserves.

Mr. BLEAKLEY.—We experience the same difficulties from prospectors and others desiring to enter the reserves. We have legislation stating that, notwithstanding anything in the Mining Act, no one may enter an aboriginal reserve without the authority of the Protector. Nevertheless, from time to time, pressure is brought to bear upon the Minister to waive the rule. In practise, we find that a great many applications for entry are not genuine. They come from persons who pose as prospectors merely for the purpose of getting into touch with aboriginal women.

Mr. NEVILLE.—We have in Western Australia 24,000,000 acres set aside as reserves for aborigines. Of that area 14,000,000 acres are on the borders of South Australia and Western Australia. As a general rule, we forbid any trespass on reserves, and prosecute those who violate the law. That, however is not going to help us much if a native picks up a piece of gold, and brings it into civilisation. Our eastern reserve has already been penetrated by a number of expeditions in search of gold during recent years. We make those organizing such expeditions enter into a bond of £100 to abstain from doing certain things, and we require them to report to us when they come out. That is all very well so for as it goes, and up to the present there have been few abuses. However, it is impossible to police such an enormous area lying as it does just back of our gold-fields, and there is a constant trickle of prospectors from the gold-fields out into the Never Never. There are also prospectors coming into the area from the other side, and, in some instances, tragedies have occurred. It is now proposed to put into effect a policy under which, if gold or other minerals are discovered, they shall he exploited partly for the benefit of the natives, to whom we consider they belong. We know that if a rich gold strike were made in an aboriginal reserve, it would be utterly futile to try to prevent a rush. No law could keep men out once gold was found. Therefore, we say, would it not be better when gold is found in such an area to allow it to be worked on condition that every ounce won shall be subject to a royalty for the benefit of the natives? That is the policy we propose to pursue in future. The goldfield would be proclaimed, and excised from the aboriginal reserve on conditions. I do not think that any attempt absolutely to prevent the economic development of aboriginal reserves would be successful, and it would merely retard the development of the State. If, by any chance, Lasseter's Reef were discovered it would he a wonderful thing for the State, and we should not attempt to prevent its exploitation. There would still be plenty of land left for the aborigines.

Dr. COOK.—While I am in general accord with the view of Mr. Neville, I do not think that private prospecting should be allowed in the central reserve. All prospecting should be done by offial parties.

Professor CLELAND.—There seems to be very little hope of payable gold being found in this area, in any case, so that no good purpose could be served by allowing private prospectors to enter it. So far us the natives are concerned, only harm could result, because they would eventually be detribalized.

Mr. CARRODUS.—The Commonwealth Government is influenced by the fact that there is in the Northern Territory such a huge area that has not yet been prospected, that it is undesirable to allow prospectors to enter the aboriginal reserve until the rest of the territory has been combed.

Dr. MORRIS.—This is purely a matter of policy, and I do not think that the conference is called upon to record a resolution in respect of it.

Mr. BAILEY.—The Commonwealth has taken a stand so far as its own reserves are concerned. As for the States, I do not think that we, at this Conference, are called upon to take any action.

Sitting suspended from 4.30 p.m. to 7.30 p.m.


In camera:

That no subsidy be granted to any mission unless the mission body agrees to compy with any instruction of the authority controlling aboriginal affairs in respect of—

(a) the standard of education of natives on the mission;

(b) the measures to be taken for the treatment of sickness and the control of communicable diseases;