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Coalition disappointed that the Government rejected a clarifying amendment

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The Coalition is disappointed that the Government has maintained

its cynicism over the Aboriginal resolution by rejecting a clarifying amendment put forward by the Coalition - to state that self-determination was an entitlement Aborigines held 'in common

The only reason that the Minister gave for rejecting the amendment was that the Government considered them unnecessary.

The Government did not state it was opposed to the words.

Only six words and the Governments willingness to use Aboriginal people as political pawns prevented a bi-partisan resolution.

The Government must take responsibility for the lack of bipartisanship on the resolution.

The reference in the resolution to the right of Aboriginal and Islander people to self-determination should be clearly limited to the domestic, policy usage of that term rather than be left open to the international law meaning.

Under international law, 'self-determination' can involve the right of peoples within a State to determine their form of government irrespective of the wishes of other members of the State.

The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs reiterated the fact that the Government gives the term a 'self-determination' a limited domestic meaning in his 'Foundations for the Future' speech when he said:

"In the past there has been a misunderstanding of what

Aboriginal and Islander people have meant when talking of self-determination. What has always existed is a willingness

with all other Australians.


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and desire by Aboriginal people to be involved in the

decisionmaking process of Government."

This is a right which all Australians possess.

The amendment would have simply excluded the international construction of the term and affirmed the domestic use of the term.

By refusing an amendment that ensured that Aborigines would be regarded in the same way as other Australians the Government gave credence to those who would assert the separate nationhood of the Aboriginal people.

The Coalition amendment was not partisan - it was simply inviting the Government to reiterate its established position. If it is

partisan to assert the unity of Australia, it is important to be partisan - even at the cost of a bi-partisan resolution.

CONTACT: Stephen Wade (062) 77 4115 or 77 4118

Tuesday, August 23rd, 1988 AA/88/39