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NT chief minister's cynical self-interest



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HE MINISTER FOR HOME AFFAIRS A N D ENVIRONM ENT 15 F E B R U A R Y 1 9 8 4 N T C H I E F M I N I S T E R ' S C Y N I C A L S E L F - I N T E R E S T

THE SEMINAR ON TOURISM IN KAKADU NATIONAL PARK COULD NOT,"AND

SHOULD NOT PROCEED BEFORE THE ABORIGINAL PEOPLE AFFECTED WERE

READY FOR IT' .THE MINISTER FOR HOME AFFAIRS AND ENVIRONMENT,

MR. BARRY COHEN, SAID TODAY. -

"THE CHIEF MINISTER OF THE NORTHERN TERRITORY, MR. EVERINGHAM,

NEITHER UNDERSTANDS, NOR SEEMS TO CARE ABOUT THE FEELINGS, ASPIRATIONS

OR NEEDS OF THE ABORIGINAL PEOPLE", MR. COHEN SAID.

"HE IS MAKING GREAT PLAY OF THIS BEING A NON-POLITICAL MEETING

WHILE TRYING RUTHLESSLY TO EXPLOIT IT POLITICALLY. AS WITH OTHER

MATTERS WHICH INVOLVE THE COMMONWEALTH, MR. EVERINGHAM PRESENTS

HIS USUAL BALEFUL AND MISREPRESENTATIVE IMAGE OF THE STATE OF

THINGS. '

"THE REALITY IS THAT THE SEMINAR WILL GO ON AND THAT IT WILL

TAKE PLACE WHEN EVERYBODY IS FULLY PREPARED. THERE IS NO THREAT

TO THE PROSPECTIVE EMPLOYMENT WHICH WILL BE CREATED BY THE FEDERAL

GOVERNMENT"S COMMITMENT TO SPEND MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN AN ACCELERATED

DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM FOR THE PARK.

"WE HAVE SAID THAT THIS IS SUBJECT TO NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE NORTHERN

TERRITORY GOVERNMENT AND ABORIGINAL GROUPS. MR. EVERINGHAM'S

VERBAL FLAILINGS DIMINISH THE ABORIGINAL INTEREST.

"HIS REAL INTEREST IS HIS OWN, AS A PUTATIVE FEDERAL MEMBER.

HIS CRIES HAVE NOT BEEN SUPPORTED BY THE ABORIGINAL PEOPLE, NOR

BY DEVELOPMENT INTERESTS, NOR ANYBODY ELSE CLOSELY CONCERNED

WITH THE SEMINAR.

"MR. EVERINGHAM IS TRYING TO PUT PRESSURE NOT ONLY ON THE FEDERAL

GOVERNMENT BUT ALSO ON THE ABORIGINAL PEOPLE.

"MY COLLEAGUE, CLYDE HOLDING, WHO HAS BEEN IN THE NORTHERN TERRITORY

THIS WEEK, HAS BEEN TALKING WITH ABORIGINAL GROUPS ABOUT THE

SEMINAR.

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"CLYDE HOLDING SAYS THE PEOPLE NEED TIME TO CONSIDER MORE DEEPLY

THE IMPLICATIONS FOR THEM AND THEIR LIFE STYLE OF THE DEVELOPMENT

OF THE PARK.

"WE WILL NOT BE A PARTY TO ANY ATTEMPT TO BULLDOZE THEM. MR.

EVERINGHAM, WHO IS ALWAYS ANXIOUS TO APPROPRIATE CREDIT FOR NEW

DEVELOPMENTS, MAY FIND HIMSELF BEING ACCUSED OF ALSO APPROPRIATING

ABORIGINAL RIGHTS TO SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES.

"IF HE WAS REALLY CONCERNED HE WOULD NOT BE CONDUCTING BUSINESS

WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT THROUGH THE MEANS OF PRESS RELEASES.

"PLANNING FOR THE SEMINAR HAS BEEN GOING ON SINCE WE FIRST AGREED

TO IT IN MID-DECEMBER LAST YEAR. THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAS

MADE FUNDS AVAILABLE TO HOST THE SEMINAR.

"I AM CONCERNED TO GET THE BEST RESULTS FOR THE NORTHERN TERRITORY

FROM THE DEVELOPMENT OF TOURISM IN THE KAKADU NATIONAL PARK AND

I DO NOT WANT THIS MEETING TO GO OFF HALF-COCKED.

"IN WORKING FOR THE RESULTS WE WANT WE MUST MAKE THE ABORIGINAL

INTEREST A PRINCIPAL CONCERN, NOT SOMETHING TO BE SWEPT ASIDE

BY ONE PERSON'S AMBITIONS."

MR. EVERINGHAM'S SUDDEN ENTHUSIASM FOR KAKADU NATIONAL PARK IS

AT ODDS WITH HIS SCORNFUL COMMENTS ABOUT THE COMMONWEALTH ANNOUNCEMENT

OF THE DECLARATION OF STAGE 2 AND THE ADVANCED DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM

ANNOUNCED LAST YEAR.

UNLIKE MR. EVERINGHAM, THE COMMONWEALTH PLANS FOR DEVELOPMENT

OF KAKADU HAVE NEVER DEPENDED ON THE LATEST POLITICAL EVENT.

IN NOVEMBER. MR. EVERINGHAM ACCUSED THE PRIME MINISTER AND MYSELF

OF PRODUCING OVERNIGHT, DETAILED PLANS AS A PLOY IN THE NORTHERN

TERITORY ELECTIONS. THESE CHARGES WERE SEEN TO BE ABSURD WHEN

OBSERVERS SAW HOW MANY MONTHS OF PREPARATION HAD GONE INTO OUR

PLANNING. SIMILARLY, HE NOW ACCUSES US OF POLITICKING BECAUSE

OF HIS ANNOUNCED INTENTIONS TO RUN FOR THE FEDERAL NORTHERN TERRITORY

SEAT.

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IT IS OUR HOPE THAT THE TOURISM SEMINAR WILL BE HELD IN MAY OR

JUNE OF THIS YEAR, WHICH WILL STILL GIVE MR. EVERINGHAM THE

OPPORTUNITY TO PARTICIPATE IN HIS ROLE AS CHIEF MINISTER.

IT IS ALSO OUR VIEW THAT ALL SENIOR POLITICIANS IN THE NORTHERN

TERRITORY, TOGETHER WITH FEDERAL MINISTERS, SHOULD BE AVAILABLE

TO MAKE A CONTRIBUTION TO THIS EXCITING DEVELOPMENT.

TO SUGGEST THAT POLITICIANS HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH SUCH PLANNING

IS ABSURD. IT IS THE POLITICIANS WHO REPRESENT THE PEOPLE OF

THE NORTHERN TERRITORY AND AUSTRALIA WHO ULTIMATELY HAVE TO MAKE

THE DECISIONS ABOUT KAKADU.

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