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- Start of Business
- ELECTORAL DIVISION OF OXLEY
- DEATHS OF FORMER MEMBER AND FORMER SENATOR
- ABORIGINES AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDERS
- DISTINGUISHED VISITORS
- ABORIGINES AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDERS
- MINISTERIAL ARRANGEMENTS
QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
MINISTER FOR IMMIGRATION, LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND ETHNIC AFFAIRS
(Mr HOWARD, Mr HAWKE)
(Mr MARTIN, Mr KERIN)
COUNTER-TERRORIST PLANNING AND OPERATIONS
(Mr HOWARD, Mr HAWKE)
PASSENGER TERMINALS AT DARWIN AND ALICE SPRINGS AIRPORTS
(Mr SNOWDON, Mr PETER MORRIS)
(Mr SINCLAIR, Mr HOLDING)
PAPUA NEW GUINEA
(Mr LEE, Mr BEAZLEY)
(Mr CADMAN, Mr HOLDING)
(Mr SNOW, Dr BLEWETT)
(Mr HOWARD, Mr HOLDING)
UNITED KINGDOM PENSIONS: PAYMENT IN AUSTRALIA
(Mr BILNEY, Mr HOWE)
(Mr LLOYD, Mr HOLDING)
(Mr DUBOIS, Mr PUNCH)
TAX FILE NUMBER
(Mr PEACOCK, Dr BLEWETT)
(Mr CUNNINGHAM, Mr HOLDING)
- MINISTER FOR IMMIGRATION, LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND ETHNIC AFFAIRS
- PRESENTATION OF PAPERS
- HUMAN RIGHTS AND EQUAL OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION
- ADMINISTRATION AND MANAGEMENT OF CIVIL COASTAL SURVEILLANCE IN NORTHERN AUSTRALIA
- QUARANTINE REVIEW COMMITTEE
- AUSTRALIAN QUARANTINE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE FUTURE
- HARMONISATION OF ROAD VEHICLE REGULATION IN AUSTRALIA
- PERSONAL EXPLANATION
- ASSENT TO BILLS
- REFERENDUM CAMPAIGN
- SELECTION COMMITTEE
- TARIFF PROPOSALS
- EXPORT MARKET DEVELOPMENT GRANTS AMENDMENT BILL 1988
- APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 1) 1988-89
- BUDGET PAPERS 1988-89
- APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 2) 1988-89
- APPROPRIATION (PARLIAMENTARY DEPARTMENTS) BILL 1988-89
- WOMEN'S BUDGET STATEMENT
- LABOUR MARKET REFORM: INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS AGENDA
- HIGHER EDUCATION IN AUSTRALIA
- TOWARDS A FAIRER AUSTRALIA
- COMMONWEALTH CAPITAL WORKS PROGRAM
- AUSTRALIA'S OVERSEAS AID PROGRAM
- AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY BUDGET STATEMENT 1988-89
- SALES TAX ASSESSMENT (No. 1) AMENDMENT BILL 1988
- SALES TAX (EXEMPTIONS AND CLASSIFICATIONS) AMENDMENT BILL 1988 [No. 2]
- STATES (WORKS AND HOUSING) ASSISTANCE BILL 1988
- GOVERNOR-GENERAL AMENDMENT BILL 1988
- TARIFF PROPOSALS
Tuesday, 23 August 1988
Mr HOWARD (Leader of the Opposition)(2.16) —The Opposition approaches this motion put forward by the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) in the sincere and constructive fashion in which I believe the Prime Minister spoke a few moments ago.
Mr Griffiths —But.
Mr HOWARD —That is a terrific exercise in bipartisanship, is it not? The Government wants a bipartisan approach to something like this, and that is a brilliant start to the contribution of those opposite. I say on behalf of the Liberal and National parties that we approach this matter in a constructive fashion. I would like to be party to a bipartisan resolution on this subject but, as I have said on this and other occasions, bipartisanship is not an end in itself; bipartisanship makes sense only if we are bipartisan about the right policy. That applies in relation to this issue as it does to many other issues.
I would like, on behalf of the Liberal and National parties, to say to the heads of the 14 churches in Australia that we totally understand and support the motives behind this resolution proposal. We have no desire to deny the facts of Aboriginal history. I do not hold the view that symbolism is irrelevant in public life, although it is fair to say that the passage of this motion, in whatever form, by this Parliament will not of itself improve the health or the education standards or necessarily lift the horizons of Aboriginal Australians. Anybody who imagines that resolutions and symbolism are a substitute for effective working policies in this or, indeed, any other area is deluding himself.
We have but one area of concern about the wording of this motion. We are not, as alleged by some in the Government and by some in the community, opposed to the concept of a resolution. We are not opposed to paragraph (1) of the motion. We recognise the facts of Aboriginal settlement and occupation of the Australian land mass. We recognise the dispossession and the dispersal that was suffered by the Aboriginal people. Anybody who has an elementary understanding of Australian history would have to recognise that. It is self-evident from a reading of that same history that Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders were denied full citizenship rights until the 1967 referendum, initiated, as the Prime Minister said, by a Liberal-Country Party Government. We are as happy as the Government to affirm the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage. The only difficulty we have is with paragraph (2) (b), which speaks of self-management and self-determination.
I say to those in the Australian community who would like to see bipartisanship on this issue that the only thing that stands between a bipartisan motion on the place and role of Aborigines in Australian life as the first act of this new Parliament is an acceptance by the Government of the addition, after the words `the entitlement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders to self-management and self-determination', of the words `in common with all other Australians'. What is so wrong with that? Why is it that the Government apparently cannot accept that? Why is it so concerned about accepting that? If it is really interested in having bipartisan support on this issue it has the opportunity. We are not coming in here with a whole raft of amendments.
There is a range of views in this Parliament right across the political spectrum on both sides of the House. I simply say to the Government, before it rejects this amendment out of hand-I hope it does not reject the amendment because it is not meant to be frivolous-that it would be an act of statemanship by both sides of this Parliament if we could reach agreement and a bipartisan position. If we had really wanted to have a divisive political argument about this issue it would have been open to us to have mounted opposition to this motion simply on the grounds that symbolism is empty and irrelevant and does nothing at all to cure the real problems of the Aboriginal people. We have not done that because there is a genuine desire on the part of both the Liberal and National parties to be associated with a sensible bipartisan motion on this issue.
We are concerned that the motion in its present form, and without the addition of those words, can create the perception of separate development and the impression of divisions in the Australian community. For that reason we ask the Government to agree to the addition of those words. I say to the Government that nothing I have said alters my view or the views of the Opposition regarding the unwisdom of encountering a treaty; but that belongs to another debate at another time.
Recently I was in Alice Springs and I met Wenten Rubuntja, the President of the Central Land Council. He is a traditional Aboriginal owner. During that conversation he made a very relevant comment. He said, `We are all one mob but some of us have more problems than others'. In a sense that sums up what I think a lot of Australians would like to be the approach towards improving the lot of Australian Aborigines.
I do not bring to this debate widespread condemnation of the actions of either this or earlier governments. The problems that the Aboriginal people suffer at present are problems that have existed under both Labor and Liberal governments. It is very easy for whoever may be in opposition in this Parliament to score political points on Aboriginal affairs. This is not an exercise in political point scoring. The amendment we are proposing seeks to meet a very deeply held concern on our side of the Parliament that the passage of a motion in the unamended form as proposed by the Prime Minister can create the perception of separate development. We want the Aborigines' disadvantage to be removed as part and parcel of their rights and their entitlements as Australians and as part of the Australian nation. We are not interested in any conduct or activity that in any way creates division between Aborigines and other Australians. As Australians they are entitled to have their disadvantage effectively addressed. I therefore say to the Prime Minister and to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Hand) that there are many people on both sides of the House who would like to see a resolution carried unanimously by this Parliament on its first day of normal business.
There is no doubt a range of views within all of the parties within this Parliament on the general issue of Aboriginal affairs and it is open to the Government, it is open to the Prime Minister and the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, to accept the amendment that we put forward. It will not destroy in any way the historic recognition contained in paragraph (1). It in no way disputes the historical facts that were outlined by the Prime Minister. It in no way diminishes the desire of the Government and the desire of the Prime Minister to affirm the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage. It in no way denies the desire of the Prime Minister or the Government to promote reconciliation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander citizens providing recognition of their special place in the Commonwealth of Australia. Some may argue about some of those words. Not everybody completely agrees with everything that is in the motion but in our discussions we have put those reservations aside and the one and only thing that we want altered is to remove any doubt at all that the passage of this motion will build a case for separate development, because that is repugnant to our notions of a united nation. That is why we want the Government to consider this amendment.
We have put any other reservations that people have completely to one side. If we had wanted to conduct a completely nitpicking debate we would have come in here with a whole raft of amendments. The one request that we make to the Government is totally reasonable: to add some words which remove any doubt that this motion will lay the foundations for separate development. If the Government decides that it cannot accept that amendment we cannot support the motion and I think it--
Mr HOWARD —I think it would be a very great shame. The shame will be on the Government for having passed up the opportunity. Well may Government members say shame. The shame will be on the heads of those in the Government who have passed up the opportunity. We are not putting forward an amendment that will emasculate the motion. There is nothing in this amendment that would alter the central thrust of the motion. There is nothing that can possibly be argued in this amendment that is going to destroy the original purpose of the motion. It is an eminently reasonable and acceptable amendment and I would say particularly to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, who I know brings a very conscientious commitment to the job that he does-although there may be occasions when we do not agree with some of his decisions-that if he really wants to have both sides of the Parliament united in bipartisan support at the commencement of this session, he and his colleagues, and the Prime Minister in particular, will accept an amendment which is not provocative, which is not negative, which is not destructive and which would not in any way destroy the thrust of the motion. It is sincerely desired by the Liberal and National parties to remove a genuinely held concern that we have about the perceptions that could be created. To the motion presented by the Prime Minister, I therefore move:
Paragraph (2) (b), after ``the entitlement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders to self-management and self-determination'' insert ``, in common with all other Australians,''.
Those six words are all that the Opposition requests the Government to accept to enable the first resolution relating to the first Australians to be carried unanimously in a bipartisan spirit on this first day of business in this new Parliament House. I say to the Government that it is important to the bipartisan approach it wants on this sensitive issue that it accede to that amendment.
Madam SPEAKER —Is the amendment seconded?