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Monday, 14 March 2005
Page: 107

Senator VANSTONE (Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Indigenous Affairs) (8:38 PM) —Senator, I will respond briefly to your remarks. I understand how strongly you feel about this, and you are entitled to have strength of polemic in the way you put your views. But, when you attribute bad faith, I am sure you will not mind me saying that some of us take offence. There are different ways to achieve better outcomes. It is not true that your way necessarily is the best way. It is certainly not true at all that, because the government chooses a different way, it is indifferent to the plight of Indigenous Australians—which, with respect, is what I think you were trying to convey. So, if you will forgive me, I will be brief in my response to you.

While I was trying to get a response on the run to some other matters you have raised, you apparently asked about a trust fund that operates in Cape York. The advice I have is that the trust fund is preserved on exactly the same terms as before, so nothing has changed in that context. If people are entitled to get a benefit under those terms, well and good; if they are not entitled to one, they do not. You may have advised that you think this particular group have advice that they are not getting a payment. That is not the advice that I have. In any event, the point is that the trust fund remains intact and on the same terms and for the same purposes as was the case previously.

Senator, you can always come into this place and refer to someone who has a different view or who says they were not consulted—and they may not have been. It is not possible to consult every individual person. But I will summarise by saying this: your argument is for more of the same. I look at what is happening and I do not think it is anywhere near good enough and I do not think more of the same is anywhere near acceptable.