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Tuesday, 15 October 2002
Page: 5183

Senator RIDGEWAY (6:28 PM) —I thank the minister for that response. I wonder whether, as a result of his opening comments, the minister might also be able to take on board that this is an amendment bill and that presumably other amendments could come forward in the future. The fact is that, in November, ATSIC, the Cape York Land Council, the Torres Strait Regional Authority, to which you refer, and the Kaurareg people do intend to meet to resolve many of the issues which are not being dealt with or which are not resolved at the current time. What about any amendment that they might suggest in terms of how to resolve this issue?

I also wonder whether the minister understands that, in the context of the issue of representation and cultural difference, whilst there are assumptions made because we are talking about the Torres Strait Islands and the Torres Strait zone that the Kaurareg people are in fact fringe dwellers in relation to the zone itself and in relation to ethnic identity in the Torres Strait, being from an Aboriginal background and not necessarily a Torres Strait background, I think they have a legitimate issue in terms of concerns about whether they are being adequately represented in terms of their way of life. Is the minister prepared to give some commitment, following on from the November meeting of the communities, about considering any other decisions that are reached by Indigenous representatives to bring about further changes in terms of representation?