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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 14, No. 7. June 25, 1951

Human Rights Ignored?

Human Rights Ignored?

Sir.—Regarding the aborigines mentioned by Travel and Exchange in the last issue, I would like to say how Ealing Studios were making "Bitter Springs" early this year. The aborigines acting in it are now begging food along the transcontinental train route. The leading aboriginal actor was to be paid £15 a month. The Australian Government allowed him to receive only £6 a month. Four pounds of this money they said would be "held" for him. The insulting reason was that the aborigines are assumed to be "shiftless and unreliable."

The Australian Government has no specific federal department for aboriginal welfare. The rocket range in Western Australia has meant dispossession and death to whole tribes. Dr. Charles Duqued, anthropologist, said: "The whole fabric of life of 1500 or even more of our tribal aborigines is to be sacrificed to this preparation for another war."

For the aboriginal religion, dispossession of his land means extinction, not only from melancholy but from the retaliation of other tribes whose territory is thus intruded upon.

At a large Human Rights Assembly held in Melbourne last summer Rev. Peter Hodge, of South Australia, showed a leg iron which had been worn by an aboriginal member of a slave chain gang.

Today, there is only about one full blood left for every eight who roamed Australia when the European came. Saying that they are a dying race is a useful cover up for the dispossession, starvation, disruption of their spiritual life, disease, and violence which has been their unhappy lot.


["Travel and Exchange" did not say they were a dying race—merely that it is not possible to make the sweeping assertion that the Australian Government's policy is one of extinction.—Ed.]