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Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee - 02/06/98 - PRIME MINISTER AND CABINET PORTFOLIO - Subprogram C—Corporate and strategic - Subprogram C5—Evaluation and audit

Senator HEFFERNAN —Recent publicity—which I have here—in Queensland has suggested that Commissioner Robinson is suing the Queensland government for $1 million for wrongful arrest. You would be aware of that?

Mr Rees —Yes, Senator.


Senator HEFFERNAN —Would you care to outline to the committee the background to that case?

Mr Rees —I cannot outline the full background to the court case. If you are interested in ATSIC's funding relationship with the case, I can do that, Senator.

Senator HEFFERNAN —Who is funding the challenge?

Mr Rees —In February 1995, the board took a decision to provide $45,000 to fund the costs of the compensation case.

Senator HEFFERNAN —Who funded the original case and the appeal?

Mr Rees —My understanding is that all the costs up to that point were funded through the QEA Aboriginal Legal Aid Service.

Senator HEFFERNAN —Can you provide us—

Mr Kent —Senator, could I just add that I think the ATSIC board's predecessors provided about $1,000 supplementation to that. I am not sure, but I think it was back in about 1989 it might have been.

Senator HEFFERNAN —Can you provide the committee with those details of the defence. I have a final couple of questions. Is ATSIC funding private legal matters involving the commissioners at the present time other than the one you have just identified?

Mr Kent —Not that I am aware of, Senator.

Senator HEFFERNAN —Does ATSIC have a policy on these matters?

Mr Kent —In 1995, the board took a decision that it would no longer provide separate funding for any of those matters.

Senator HEFFERNAN —So the accommodation that Commissioner Robinson has been provided by ATSIC no longer applies?

Mr Kent —In terms of providing that legal aid funding, that is right. That was the last one.

Senator Herron —The $45,000 has been expended to the extent of $43,000, as I understand it.

Mr Kent —That is right, minister.

Senator Herron —The original funding came from QEA, not from ATSIC.

Senator HEFFERNAN —Would it be inappropriate to have that detail provided to this committee?

Senator Herron —I do not think we have details.

Mr Kent —We can provide you with the information on what ATSIC provided. We are trying to find out as well from the legal service how much they provided. That may be difficult, because they might have provided—

Senator HEFFERNAN —If you were able to find that out for your own information, could you provide that information—because obviously it is taxpayers' money—to this committee? I also remind you of the background of the case.

Mr Kent —Yes, we can provide that.

Senator HEFFERNAN —Through you, Mr Chairman, could I put my questions on section C4 on notice?

CHAIR —Yes.


Senator HEFFERNAN —Thank you very much.

CHAIR —The committee's hearing is now suspended until 8 p.m. Thank you minister and thank you officers.

Proceedings suspended from 6.58 p.m. to 8.04 p.m.