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Ruddock - Minister for divisive litigation.



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MEDIA STATEMENT MEDIA STATEMENT MEDIA STATEMENT MEDIA STATEMENT Hon Dr Carmen Lawrence MP Shadow Minister for Reconciliation, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Affairs; the Arts and Status of Women

Federal Member for Fremantle

Tuesday, 24 September 2002

Ruddock - Minister for Divisive Litigation

Today in Question Time Minister Ruddock complained about the amount of litigation which arises from disputes in the Immigration section of his portfolio.

It is worth pointing out that his Government’s penchant for litigation also extends to what he has referred to as the “recreational” part of his portfolio - Indigenous affairs.

The Government’s opposition to the claims of the Cubillo-Gunner Stolen Generations case, only one legal case out of hundreds, has cost the taxpayer over $9.4 million, without taking into account the cost of the Australian Government Solicitor and Federal Court - these added costs would put it well above that official amount.

One lawyer was paid $1 million of this total. Private investigators were paid $770,000. Not one cent of this money has helped those who have suffered.

These funds are part of the Minister’s Budget for the Office of Indigenous Affairs, 30% of which was allocated for litigation against Indigenous people’s interests.

The Howard Government has also spent many millions resisting Native Title claims and funding parties opposed to such claims.

Recently Senator Abetz spent more taxpayers’ funds denying this history, even though the Federal Court has acknowledged it. He printed and distributed a pamphlet to his electors denigrating the film Rabbit Proof Fence, asserting that the film tries to demonise those that “devoted their lives to helping Aborigines”.

No doubt the cost of these brochures will be considered a part of the Howard Government’s funding of ‘practical reconciliation’ along with the cost of litigation against those members of the Stolen Generations.

Contact: Jo Fox Ph: (02) 6277 4181 or 0419 963 486