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Wednesday, 16 March 2005
Page: 129

Senator NETTLE (5:47 PM) —I want to point out that the peak national Indigenous body in Canada is funded by the Canadian federal government and that I believe mainstreaming of Indigenous services is not self-determination. I know that the minister in her answer will point to shared responsibility agreements as being part of what she sees as self-determination. I do not believe that the negotiation of agreements by local communities, families and individuals with the whole of the Commonwealth government represents an equal partnership or equal relationship that equates to Indigenous control of Indigenous affairs.

I am pleased that the minister has raised the example of the Lockhart River community and the 51 different agreements. During the public hearings of the Senate select committee, I asked a government official about the number of shared responsibility agreements that they anticipated would be coming into effect. The answer they gave related to the Mulan community in Western Australia. They said for that community they had different individual agreements for different issues that the community wanted to raise—and one example of that is the petrol bowsers for the washing of faces. But in answer to my question that government official said, ‘These are all the different shared responsibility agreements that the Mulan community has,’ and he went through them.

To me, that is very similar to the situation that the minister describes for the Lockhart River community, for which there are 51 agreements on particular issues with state and Commonwealth governments. So maybe the minister could throw more light on how many shared responsibility agreements the government anticipates there will be for each community, given that the government official answering that question said there would be one for each different issue that the community wants to raise.