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Monday, 16 June 1997
Page: 4183

Senator McGAURAN —My question is addressed to Senator Herron, the Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs. Minister, as you would be aware, the government recently announced a new indigenous business incentive program that will further the economic independence of indigenous Australians. Will you outline the initiatives that demonstrate our commitment to achieving self-empowerment for indigenous Australians through economic independence?

Senator HERRON —I thank Senator McGauran for the question because it brings out the very difference between this side of politics and the other. Indigenous Australians are finally seeing a light at the end of a very long tunnel, Senator McGauran; the tunnel, of course, representing 13 years of misguided Labor maladministration. After more than a decade of being encouraged by a Labor government to rely on welfare payments, indigenous Australians are starting to throw off the shackles of dependence. The government is committed to promoting greater economic independence as is evidenced by the new program that you mentioned. Indigenous Australians are starting businesses in their communities and generating employment for their own people.

Senator Bob Collins —Every one you have listed was under the previous Labor government.

Senator HERRON —Just last weekend I visited with the Prime Minister the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park in Cairns, which is a successful enterprise, a joint venture 51 per cent owned by the Tjapukai people. Its blend of history and culture is outstanding. I would commend a visit to all Australians. I would like to ask how many of those on the other side have actually visited it? I know that Senator Ian Macdonald has been a strong promoter of the Tjapukai cultural park.

Senator Bob Collins —Every shining light you nominate was done under the previous Labor administration.

The PRESIDENT —Order, Senator Collins!

Senator HERRON —I am pleased to report that the minister for tourism, Mr John Moore, has announced grants totalling almost $5 million for tourism projects in rural and regional areas. Senator Collins, you might listen to this because this is new. I am pleased to say that this funding boost includes a number of Aboriginal ventures.

Senator Bob Collins —This will be something new.

Senator HERRON —Yes, it is, Senator Collins. In New South Wales a grant of $30,000 will go to the Aboriginal discover a ranger training scheme. In Victoria, $85,000 will go towards the Brambuk Living Cultural Centre. This project will help to reconcile the different perspectives of the land held by indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.

A further grant of $75,000 will help develop a retail distribution channel for authentic Victorian Aboriginal arts and crafts through selected tourism retail centres. In Western Australia, a grant of $60,000 will go towards the Aboriginal arts and crafts tourism enterprise at King's Park. The money will go towards developing an interpretive area, featuring the work of indigenous artists and residents and their regions. Another grant of $40,000 will go to Kimberley Cultural Expe ditions to develop a 10-day cultural tour from Broome to Kununurra.

In South Australia, a grant of $60,000 will go to the Head of Bight Whale Watching Enterprise to developing a whale watching enterprise. This venture involves the Yalata Community Council. In the Northern Territory, a grant of $50,000 will go towards an Aboriginal tourism training centre. The project will provide flexible training for indigenous people in rural and remote areas who want to develop tourism skills. A grant of $25,000 will be given to Peppi Tours Permanent Campsite at Peppimenarti, south of Darwin.

The government will continue to work towards self-empowerment for indigenous Australians through economic independence. The $120 million indigenous business incentive program announced in the recent budget will provide another boost to indigenous business enterprises, helping to create jobs, independence and a more certain future for indigenous Australians.