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Wednesday, 8 June 1994
Page: 1486

Senator CALVERT —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs. Is the minister aware of a Tasmanian 7.30 Report in which allegations of nepotism and sales tax abuse have been raised regarding the activities of the Indigenous Tasmanian Aboriginal Corporation? Will the minister provide an undertaking to investigate allegations that taxpayer funds which were provided to purchase homes for needy members of the Tasmanian Aboriginal community have instead been used to purchase homes for the Tasmanian Chairman of ITAC, Mr Ted Stephenson, and members of his family? Will the minister further provide an undertaking to investigate allegations that members of ITAC staff have been guilty of using ITAC funds to purchase goods for their own use and also of claiming sales tax exemptions on goods which were for personal use? Does the minister have concern that genuinely needy members of the Tasmania Aboriginal community may have suffered because of the misplaced priorities of the Indigenous Tasmanian Aboriginal Corporation and, if so, will he give an assurance that steps will be taken to ensure that, in future, funds for Aboriginal housing in Tasmania are directed towards those with the most need?

Senator COLLINS —Unfortunately I did not see that particular program, and there is no advice to me from the minister on it. I will seek advice from the minister. Hopefully, I will be able to provide it to Senator Calvert before the expiration of sittings this week. I would share his concerns if the matters that he has raised are correct. I have no doubt, on ATSIC's track record so far, that if there has been any misappropriation ATSIC will be pursuing this matter—if there is ATSIC funding involved—as aggressively as it has in other cases that have occurred. I will seek further advice for Senator Calvert and provide it to the Senate.