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Friday, 15 June 1984
Page: 3194


Senator KILGARIFF(8.16) —I refer to clause 3, ' interpretation', particularly in relation to the definition of 'Aboriginal tradition'. When one looks around this chamber tonight one cannot help but be a little cynical about what this exercise is all about. Of course the exercise is to push through this legislation without due consideration for the people who are involved. Having listened to the rather emotional address today of the Minister for Education and Youth Affairs, Senator Ryan, who is in charge of the Bill, we now find that she is not here tonight while we are in Committee debating various points of the legislation. What is this game all about? We want to consider the Bill properly, and yet the people it affects have never been consulted and the Minister in charge of the Bill is not here tonight. It is a very cynical approach by the Government.


Senator MacGibbon —She is no good; she is hopeless as a Minister.


Senator KILGARIFF —They should replace her, then.


Senator Grimes —At least she is not a crook like you.


Senator KILGARIFF —I do not care what the Minister has to say about Senator Ryan not looking like me. Thank goodness she does not.


Senator Grimes —Unfortunately you are deaf, too.


Senator KILGARIFF —The Minister can get a little niggly if he wishes but I am sure that in his own heart he realises, from the voice of the nation, that with this legislation the Government has jumped the gun. I refer briefly to the interpretation of 'Aboriginal tradition' as it relates to the purpose of the Bill. What it really boils down to is this: The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Holding) has taken upon himself all those powers that ordinarily Parliament does not give to a Minister. He has taken away powers from the Aboriginal people because he will tell them what they can and cannot do and what they will and will not accept. As I have indicated before, the purposes of the Bill indicate that the Aboriginal people will not have any say in the matter; the Minister will have full power. The Aboriginal people have indicated that they want time to consider the matter, so I suggest once again that the Government adjourn this debate and go back to the people, particularly the Aboriginal people.