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Friday, 15 June 1984
Page: 3207


Senator GRIMES (Minister for Social Security)(9.37) —As to the last point, the agreement has already been made about the Barramundi site at the Argyle mine. The land has already been degraded. Certainly people can apply to have it declared a sacred site, but it is unlikely. In fact, the Minister has said that it is not likely in any case that he would overrule such an agreement which has already been made. It is a situation which already exists. If Senator Crichton-Browne wants to go right around Australia looking at all sorts of hypothetical cases such as this he can, but I do not think that it will achieve much in this legislation.


Senator Crichton-Browne —I am sorry, Senator; are you saying-


Senator GRIMES —I ask the honourable senator to wait until I have finished. The first question he raised was: Why can people make oral submissions? The simple answer is: First, frequently traditional Aboriginals cannot read or write. An oral submission is the only type of submission that they are likely to be able to make. Secondly, if a bulldozer is coming down the road, it is not much good a person writing a letter and sending it off to the southern States; it will not get there in time. So that person is likely to make an oral submission. Senator Crichton-Browne's second question was: What criteria will the Minister use if he makes a decision about a submission of that type? I suggest there are several things that he can do. He can and, in fact, will consult with State authorities which will consult with other experts in the area and he will consult with the experts in his own Department. He will not sit in an office and make a decision off the top of his head. Thirdly, Senator Crichton-Browne asked: Why is the declaration only published in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette? I turn to clause 14 (2) (a) which states:

. . . the Minister shall-

(a) take reasonable steps to give notice, in writing, of the declaration to persons likely to be substantially affected by the declaration;

In other words, he has to contact people who are substantially affected by the declaration. He does not only have to use the Gazette.


Senator Crichton-Browne —No, read your own words.


Senator GRIMES —If Senator Crichton-Browne wants to corrupt and, just for the sake of extending this debate, ignore other clauses of the legislation he can do so. It is an interesting exercise for him and we can all question his motives in that regard. Quite frankly, if we are to listen to 10-minute anecdotal speeches from Senator Crichton-Browne on each clause of the legislation, ignoring other clauses of the legislation, I do not think we will get anywhere. Surely we have to look at the whole basis of the legislation, what it is about, and surely we should not sit here and look at just fanciful literal interpretations of every single sentence, ignoring every other clause in the legislation. If we are going to do that we should be doing it on every bit of legislation which comes into this place, in which case we would never get anywhere. I realise that Senator Crichton-Browne has interests to represent and I realise he has obsessions about this area but I suggest that he really should do what Senator Chaney did and talk about the general objections he has rather than nitpicking through clauses and ignoring other clauses which qualify them. Otherwise, we are all wasting our time and we may as well either give the game away or stay here all weekend.