TRAGEDY OF THE CENTRE.
The report of the Board of Enquiry con- cerning the shooting of certain aborigines in Central Australia was released by the Minister of Home Affairs in Canberra on Wednesday. It says that in each case the shooting was justified and that there was no provocation by settlers to account for depredations of aborigines. The Board consisted of A. H. O'Kelly (chairman), J. C. Cawood (Govt. Resident), and Inspector P. A. Gilles. Regarding the shooting by Constable Murray and party, in connection with arrests of aborigines implicated in the murder of Frederick Brookes report points out that Constable Murray is corroborated by three reputable settlers and a tracker. All stated that the shooting was absolu- tely necessary to save their lives. The Board was prepared to believe the evi- dence of all witnesses. Regarding the shooting of fourteen natives implicated in an attack on W. Morton, the report says Constable Muray's evidence is corrobor- ated in every detail by Morton and the Board sees no reason to doubt the evi- dence.
In Tilmouth's case also there was corrob- oration, and the Board has no hesitation in finding that the shooting was justified.
Dealing generally with the suggestion that shooting by the police party was in the nature of a reprisal or punitive expe- dition, the report says there is not a scien- tilla of evidence to support it, and this view was borne out by the circumstances.
In the Board's opinion the following are the reasons for the aborigines' actions : (A) Advance of the Walmulla tribe on a marauding expedition from the border of Western Australia into Conniston country. (B) Unattached missionaries wandering from place to place, having no previous knowledge of the blacks, and preaching a doctrine of equality. (C) Inexperi- enced white settlers making free with na- tives and treating them as equals. (D) Semi-civilized natives migrating and gett- ing in touch with myalls. (E) Semi- civilized natives losing their skill for
hunting wild game through lack of prac- tice and preying on working boys at the stations. (F) Woman missionary living amongst naked blacks, thus lowering their arrested wandering about in their native minor offences going unpunished owing to insufficient police. (H) Insufficient po- lice patrols. (I) Imprisonment not being deterrent to native offenders. (J) Es- caped prisoners from Darwin not being re- arrested wandering abolt in their native country and causing unrest and preaching
revolt against the whites.
In conclusion, the Board states that there is no evidence of any starvation of blacks in Central Australia. On the contrary, there is abundance of native food and
MR O'KELLY, P.M.,
Chairman of the Board of Inquiry into the shooting of seventeen blacks at Alice Springs. He left Melbourne on December
l8 to commence the inquiry.