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Thursday, 27 November 1986
Page: 3847


Mr HAND(12.15) —I just wish to take a few more moments of the Committee's time to answer a couple of the comments made by the short term representative of the Northern Territory. The honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Everingham) made comments about consultation by the Government. I just want to put it on the record that I have talked to the Central Land Council and the Northern Land Council on many occasions. I also point out to the honourable member-and he knows this-that I have visited the Northern Territory and talked to a whole range of people outside the land council structure. He knows that to be true, as does the shadow Minister, the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Connolly). There are not many members of this place, other than the honourable member for the Northern Territory, who live there, and the Minister, who have made as many trips to the outlying areas and talked to as many communities.


Mr Everingham —I am glad you now acknowledge that I live there.


Mr HAND —That is true.


Mr Everingham —That is not what the Minister says.


Mr HAND —What I am saying is that this is a very delicate issue and that people ought not to come in here and make comments about me and think that they are going to get away with it, because I am going to respond to them if they are not true. The point I am making is that I have visited the Northern Territory and talked to many people. The honourable member also talked about the Toohey report entitled `Seven Years On'. It is an excellent document. The honourable member knows that to be true and he knows that it is widely accepted by the whole of Australia as an excellent document.

What we are about here is discussing proposed amendments to legislation which those opposite talk about as though they were some great gift to Aboriginal people. That is just not true. The legislation in its present form does not bar Aboriginal people from entering into mining arrangements, and the honourable member knows that to be a fact. What he is about is taking away the power of Aboriginal people to have some say in what goes on on their land and handing that power over to Peko-Wallsend Ltd and the people from whom he got his support to get here and from whom he got his support when he was the leader of the Government in the Northern Territory. They are the people who he is representing. Let us get that on the record and understood by people listening on the radio and in the gallery. That is what this amendment is all about. The honourable member should not pretend that he has been to this island or to that island, or to Arnhem or somewhere else, and had discussions with Aboriginal people and that they are wildly excited about the Opposition's amendments, because they are not and everybody knows it.

What those opposite are about, I repeat, is changing the legislation to favour one section of the community in the Northern Territory, that being the internationally and Australian owned mining companies, over and above Aboriginal people and the whole of the Northern Territory community. That is what they are about. It ought to be understood by the community at large that the people who want to dig up Kakadu and wreck it are the people whom those opposite are here trying to protect by increasing their power over the people in the Northern Territory. That is what they are trying to do.

The shadow Minister cited Peko-Wallsend. The people listening know all about Peko-Wallsend, and they know that that company wants to dig up Kakadu National Park. They are the sorts of people those opposite are here supporting. They have no concern for the environment and they are showing that by their carryings-on about Kakadu. They have no concern about Aboriginals, and those opposite know that to be true, too. I repeat that, if those opposite came in here and said that these amendments would help miners and would take away from Aboriginal people some of the advantages they got from the Fraser legislation, I would have more respect for them, but they say: `I have talked to this group of Aboriginals or this Aboriginal and I have a letter from 1975 from some other Aboriginal, and that supports these amendments'. Aboriginal people, whether they are from the land councils or are elders of the community or are traditional owners, do not support the amendments, because they are going to take away from them the fair and proper powers that they have been given by the legislation. That is what the amendments attempt to do. If those opposite said that they are supporting Peko and the plunderers of the Northern Territory, I would have more respect for them, but they should not say that they are supporting Aboriginal people, because they are not.