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Monday, 14 March 2005
Page: 101

Senator VANSTONE (Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Indigenous Affairs) (8:13 PM) —Just by way of a general response, Senator Ridgeway, I do not have a specific and detailed response to the proposition you have just put. But can I say generally that, if the minister responsible for ATSIC had a general intervention power—and I have not heard it argued that that has been used inappropriately—then, under the same circumstances, it is feasible for other ministers now responsible for portions of ATSIC to have a similar general directions power. You would be aware that, in the time that I have had this job, I have used the general directions power sometimes. I may indeed have to use it again. That is all that is expected.

These are difficult issues to decide in a political sense because, when you shift something into one department, that minister has to take responsibility for that. There is, understandably, a question about the degree to which the minister can have any say in that area. But, analogous to the general power to give directions, I now have that with respect to ATSIC. Just as a small correction, it would not be me that has the power; it would be the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations.