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Thursday, 19 June 2003
Page: 17097

Mr SNOWDON (10:26 AM) —I found that answer outstandingly bizarre. Whilst I accept the intention, there will now be people in Australia who will no longer be funded because, in many communities—and in some communities I know of in the parts of Australia that I frequent—the only people employed in ATSIC who are Indigenous are members of families in their local communities. From what you have just said, because they might happen to live in Katherine, Alice Springs or Tennant Creek and work for ATSIC, if they are making decisions which might affect their communities they will not be funded.

Mr Ruddock —There are financial guidelines which have to be followed.

Mr SNOWDON —I am happy for the discussion, but you can understand that my intention is not—

Mr Ruddock —I do; I have the same concern. I am simply saying that, in relation to issues of this sort, if you have people who have a delegation to make certain decisions and they are in a conflict of interest situation there will have to be another delegate.

Mr SNOWDON —I just make the observation, Minister, that there are going to be situations, if that direction is carried through, where there will be no other delegate. In the venue where the decision making presides, the opportunities for other delegates may well be very limited. It seems to me that there is a problem emerging here which needs to be thought through far more thoroughly than it has been to date. I am not ascribing any responsibility for that to you, Minister, but I am saying that there is a real issue here. Whilst I understand the need for a separation of powers between the elected arm and the administrative arm, there is clearly now a potential for a huge conflict of interest between some members of the administrative arm and the people for whom they make decisions. I just ask if you would not mind pursuing that.