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Tuesday, 3 May 1994
Page: 11

Senator CAMPBELL —My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Why on the second last sitting day of the last sitting session did he make a commitment to establish the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Native Title? Why was that commitment not carried out?

Senator GARETH EVANS —I will have to take that one on notice. I am not sure what the situation has been about the establishment of the committee. I thought it was meant to be established. I will need to get some further information about that.

Senator CAMPBELL —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. The minister did make a solemn commitment to establish the committee by the end of the last session. When it should have been established in January or at least when we first sat in February, the government in the House of Representatives failed to appoint its members to the committee; therefore, that committee was unable to meet during the recent recess and deal with a whole range of issues that have come up about the government's unconstitutional and impractical native title legislation. We are now five months from when the legislation was passed and those opposite still have not got their committee in place because they stuffed it up again.

Senator GARETH EVANS —I am indebted to Senator Campbell for the polite and constructive spirit which he always brings to bear in this situation. I have been further advised during his prolonged rant that steps have been taken to get the committee in train. The Senate has nominated its own participants from the government's side for the committee. The House of Representatives is in the process of doing that at the moment—nominations were called for in caucus this morning and that will be followed through in the next day or so. As Senator Campbell said, the issue was only raised right at the very end of the last session. Obviously, we have had a break and it has not been possible to sort out the representation. It is being sorted out, the committee is going ahead and Senator Campbell will have ample opportunity to prolong his rants and raves in that context in the future.