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Hindmarsh Island debacle - another Government failure



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MEDIA PETER NUGENT Federal Member for Aston RELEASE SHADOW MINISTER FOR ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER AFFAIRS

HINDMARSH ISLAND DEBACLE - ANOTHER GOVERNMENT FAILURE

Today the Federal Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Robert Tickner, issued a declaration under Section 9 of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984 in respect of the Hindmarsh (Kumarangk) Island in South Australia.

This is another example of where this Labor Government's Heritage Protection legislation has failed to ensure that developers and their investment are protected as well as the sacred sites of indigenous people. As with the recent case of the Broome Crocodile Farm in Western Australia, the "Hindmarsh Bridge" situation has festered for far too long only to see the Federal Minister step in at the last minute.

Dr Armitage (SA Minister for Health and Aboriginal Affairs) has expressed considerable regret that he had to announce that the Bridge would proceed. From the information that I have received, there appears little doubt that the construction of a bridge on Hindmarsh Island would

have implications for Aboriginal heritage sites. However, I put it to Minister Tickner that stepping in at this stage and attempting to appoint an arbitrator as he has promised, means that of necessity there will be winners and losers.

Surely it is high time the Minister sat down with the States and evolved a Heritage Protection system which will ensure that these matters are resolved at an early stage in the development planning process. Such a system, as well as providing protection for Aboriginal concerns, should provide for the settlement of disputes in Court, rather than by secret arbitrated deals. It should also give security to investors once a development has been approved.

The fault here lies with the Federal Government's system, not with the parties involved. I am still waiting for the Minister to respond to my previous call to make public Fred Chaney's report and evidence from the Broome Crocodile Farm saga. I call upon the Minister in this instance to ensure that not only will justice be done but will be seen to be done by making the work of the Arbitrator open to the public.

Whatever the outcome of the Hindmarsh Bridge dispute, there will unfortunately be losers. It is the Federal Government's responsibility is to ensure that legislation is changed to avoid future repetitions of this most unacceptable situation.

12 May 1994

COMMONWEALTH PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY MICAH 34/94

For further information contact Peter Nugent on 06277-2088 or 06-231 6828 ah