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Disgraced Reith unacceptable for ATSIC review panel.

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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

Federal Member for Fremantle

4 November 2002


It is entirely unacceptable that the disgraced former Defence Minister, Peter Reith be appointed to a review panel of ATSIC, responsible for reviewing and redefining the definition of misbehaviour for ATSIC officials.

If the Federal Government is seriously considering this, I would strongly urge them to reconsider their decision because they will receive no support from Labor if he is appointed to a three member review panel as suggested in newspaper reports today.

I support an independent review of ATSIC, but it is absurd and insulting to appoint a man who has deliberately misled the public, the Prime Minister and failed to cooperate with a Senate inquiry, to rewrite the definitions of misbehaviour for ATSIC officials.

The recent Senate inquiry into the Children Overboard affair found that Peter Reith: • Was not honest in his public dealings in that, having placed inaccurate statements on the public record, he persisted with those statements having received advice to the contrary, and did not seek to correct any misconceptions

arising from his statements. • Engaged in the deliberate misleading of the Australian public concerning a matter of intense political interest during an election period. • Failed to cooperate with the Senate Select Committee established to inquire into

the ‘children overboard’ controversy, undermining the accountability of the executive to the parliament. • Failed to provide timely and accurate advice to the Prime Minister concerning the matters associated with the ‘children overboard’ controversy.

He would be an appalling choice to review ATSIC. He has shown contempt for the Australian public, the Parliament and government departments.

The fact that the Howard government is even considering appointing him is extraordinary and can only indicate that they think this kind of behaviour is acceptable, and quite frankly ATSIC and Indigenous Australians deserve better.

Contact: Amber-Jade Sanderson (08) 9335 8555 or 0409 132 975