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Thursday, 10 March 2005
Page: 65


Senator LUDWIG (2:46 PM) —My question is to Senator Amanda Vanstone, the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs. Can the minister confirm that the Rau family have made contact with her office a number of times seeking clarification of various issues? On how many occasions have the Rau family contacted the minister or her office? On what dates have these contacts been made? What is the nature of the concerns that they have expressed or the requests they have made? Have they, for instance, made any requests regarding financial assistance in relation to the Palmer inquiry? Have these concerns or requests been responded to by the minister, and what is the nature of those responses?


Senator VANSTONE (Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Indigenous Affairs) —Thank you for the question, Senator Ludwig. Yes, I have been contacted by the Rau family. My answers relate to contact with me and not to any other contacts they might have made—for example, with the Palmer inquiry direct. There was one letter seeking assistance in relation to the inquiry. That has been responded to and it has been indicated that the assistance would be provided. I have received a subsequent letter indicating a change in the lawyers who would be acting for the Rau family and, with that, a letter from the Rau family themselves. Letters have been signed but have not, to the best of my knowledge, gone in response to those matters.


Senator LUDWIG —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Could the minister provide the nature of those responses? Is the minister satisfied with the way in which her office has responded to those inquiries to date?


Senator VANSTONE (Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Indigenous Affairs) —Mr President, through you to the Senator: I will give consideration as to whether to release those replies. Of course, whether the Rau family choose to release the letters they have sent and the replies they have been given is entirely a matter for them. If they want the matters aired publicly, they can choose to do that. It is not my general policy that it is a good idea to release letters because some people in the public are interested, if it is not in the public interest. However, that should not present a problem to the Senate, because of course if the Rau family want to release those it is entirely a matter for them to do so. Am I happy? The letters have been responded to by me. I do not usually put my signature to something unless at the time I am happy with it. There are occasions when you write a letter and you get subsequent other information so that you might want to write a subsequent letter. I am not in that position at this point.