HC Deb 06 July 1961 vol 643 c1628
4. Mr. Darling

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations what requests have been received from the Australian Federal Government for financial assistance towards the resettlement of Australians displaced from their lands by the Woomera Rocket Range.

Mr. Braine

None, Sir.

Mr. Darling

Is the Minister aware that the Australian Board of Missions which looks after the welfare of these first Australians, the aborigines, is very disturbed about the results of their being displaced by the Woomera range? Will he, through the Australian Government, look into what happened to make sure that the facts which the Australian Board of Missions put out are correct? If it seems that some assistance ought to be given to these people as a result of what has happened, will he give an assurance that the United Kingdom will face up to its share of that assistance?

Mr. Braine

I am sure that the Australian authorities will ake note of this, but I know that the hon. Member is aware that the welfare of the Australian aborigines or of any other dwellers in those areas is entirely a matter for the Australian authorities. I understand that compensation has been paid from time to time to Australians for the alienation of small areas where construction has taken place, or for damage, but in all cases the sums have been small. In the sense that under present arrangements Her Majesty's Government pay a share of the total cost of the Woomera range, they contribute indirectly to any compensation payments made.