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Wednesday, 16 August 2006
Page: 13

Senator KEMP (Minister for the Arts and Sport) (10:24 AM) —Senator Evans is absolutely right on one thing: we have been through these arguments before, and at some length. Senator Evans was quite right to refer to what I thought was the quite outstanding contribution that Senator Scullion made on this issue. I refer people to the comments that Senator Scullion made and to his experience with and understanding of what is a very complex issue.

I think we have a slight language issue here. Senator Evans referred to two grants that had been made. That is not correct. The land commissioner made recommendations in relation to two matters. The land was not granted, but there was a recommendation. I think there is a difference. There are no rights being removed, because those rights have never been determined.

Senator Chris Evans —The right to claim has been removed.

Senator KEMP —Yes, there was an ambit claim. You are quite right. There were ambit claims lodged in 1997 at five minutes to midnight—that is what we are talking about.

Senator Chris Evans interjecting—

Senator KEMP —There was an ambit claim, and everybody understood that. Because Senator Evans went over some of the same ground again, which he is perfectly entitled to do, I will therefore go over a little bit of ground again as well to point out that, in the government’s position on the disposal of certain land claims, it is supported by the Northern Territory Labor government. So the Labor Party has two positions on this issue.

Senator Chris Evans —They supported the last amendment, which you knocked off.

Senator KEMP —You did not mention that earlier; it would have been an interesting point to make.

Senator Chris Evans —It would have been a puerile debate.

Senator KEMP —No, it is an important debating point because—

Senator Chris Evans interjecting—

Senator KEMP —Well, hello! I use arguments which suit me—what a surprise! Gosh, what an absolutely stunning insight!

Opposition senators interjecting—

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Brandis)—Order, Senator Evans and Senator Marshall!

Senator KEMP —Yes, I do tend to use arguments that suit me—I confess—and I guess it will continue. I made the point that we have been over these matters before. I am not sure that Senator Evans shed any new light on the Labor Party position. It is not a position that the government accepts. These were not rights; they were claims. Grants were not made; a recommendation was made. So there is, I think, a misunderstanding of the language. The government, for the reasons that have been given throughout this debate, will not be supporting the amendments.