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Thursday, 27 November 1986
Page: 3845

Mr HAND(12.03) —I wish to take a few minutes of the time of the House to enter the discussion and to point out that I was engaged somewhere else during the earlier stages of the debate. If I had not been perhaps I could have joined in the debate earlier. I have to respond to the comments of the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Connolly) purely to state this Government's point of view. In his concluding comments he talked about the trust which the miners have for this Government. I have no hesitation in saying that I am sure that this Government does not have too much trust in the company that the honourable member referred to in his quotations. I certainly do not. The record of Peko-Wallsend Ltd around this country in terms of industrial relations and its attitude to people is abominable. That has been the comment of a lot of journalists and political commentators around this country. So honour- able members opposite should not drag up Peko-Wallsend as a support group when they come into this chamber.

The amendments which have been moved by the Opposition are known as the Kilgariff amendments. I am sure that Senator Kilgariff has expressed the views of Peko-Wallsend and other mining interests in the Senate. The amendments that the Opposition has moved today are a re-run of Senator Kilgariff's private member's Bill. I would just like to ask: How many Aboriginal communities have the shadow Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Senator Kilgariff consulted about these amendments? Yet they have the audacity to come into this chamber and the Senate and talk about consultation.

I want to say again what I said during the course of the debate before we entered the Committee stage. The Government has had consultation after consultation with Aboriginal groups in the Northern Territory. Since I have been a member in this place I have seen no other piece of legislation receive more consultation than the legislation or the amendments before the House today, and that ought to be understood by the broader community. Representatives from the Northern Territory land councils have been to Canberra time and again. A government party visited the Northern Territory and spoke to Aboriginal people, the mining companies and the Northern Territory Government. That has to be understood by honourable members opposite. They come into this chamber and talk about consultation and trust, but I can tell them that a distinct lack of consultation and trust has been displayed by them, and that is recognised by large sections of the Northern Territory community, particularly the Aboriginal people. I suggest that, when members of the Opposition parties talk about discussions and consultation, they ought to start consulting with the Aboriginal people. Instead of flying into some outlying area for an afternoon or a day, or into Darwin on their way through to somewhere else, they should stop, talk and mingle with the people. They will find that the Aboriginal people of the Northern Territory support the legislation.

I guess that it would be remiss of me if I did not mention that some areas still need to be addressed. I said that also earlier in the debate. The Government recognises that. The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Holding) has stated publicly that, unless certain things happen, the matter will be re-examined in the very near future. So I make that point as a sort of guarantee to those people in the Northern Territory community who are listening to this debate. Those commitments that have been given will be honoured. The shadow Minister would do well not to come into this chamber and criticise the Government. I do not want to sound repetitive, but one gets a little tired of hearing these sorts of criticisms about this Government's consultations with Aboriginal people.

Honourable members opposite rely on one honourable member who represents that area but who has spent most of his time, since he has been a member of this Parliament, living in another State. They rely on his comments and on his expertise to guide them through. Honourable members opposite are making a terrible error in proceeding with these amendments because they are not supported by the Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory. Honourable members opposite should not come into this chamber and say that these amendments will benefit Aboriginal people. These amendments will benefit a special interest group-the miners. That is what it is all about. The miners have campaigned and advertised throughout Australia in the most dishonest of ways. Recently, they engaged in a new campaign in Victoria which was equal to the dishonesty that they displayed in Western Australia; there was lie after lie right throughout their advertisements.

The mining councils have displayed no concern for the environment or Aboriginal people. If anybody could show me where they have I would be amazed because no one has yet shown me. We need to understand who the Opposition's amendments represent. Honourable members opposite should be honest and say who their amendments represent. They should not say to us that their amendments represent the views of Aboriginal people and that they will assist Aboriginal people. I see that the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Everingham) has come into the chamber. No doubt he will have a few words to say. That is good because the more exposure he gets the better. If ever there was a oncer on that side of the chamber it is the honourable member for the Northern Territory. So honourable members should get a good look at him because he will not be here for too much longer. The honourable member for the Northern Territory does not spend much time in this chamber but he should spend a little less time here and get back to his electorate because he will be a member for only a short period.

Honourable members opposite have to come clean with the Australian community. I say this sincerely to the shadow Minister because I think deep down he does not really go along with these amendments. He is not a bad bloke really when one gets to know him, when one travels with him and mingles with him in the communities. I know that he does not support all these amendments. I do not want to do him an injustice when I say that.

Mr Connolly —I would not be moving them unless I supported them.

Mr HAND —That is not necessarily true. We all have to do things that we do not necessarily agree with. This may be a case where the honourable member is involved in one of those exercises. But I wish that he would come into this chamber and say: `These amendments are designed to assist the miners'. The Australian community could then make a judgment on the honesty that the honourable member would display. But he should not come into this chamber and say that the amendments are designed to help Aboriginal people because they are designed to strip benefits from Aboriginal people that were given by the coalition's Leader Mr Fraser, when in government, as a result of legislation worked out by the Whitlam Government. Honourable members want to strip away large sections of the legislation which are beneficial to Aboriginal people. The amendments are nothing more than a mechanism to advance the welfare of the mining lobby. If members of the Opposition said that, people might have a bit more respect for them. People then would be able to make judgments on members of the Opposition because they would really expose what they are on about. I just say to those opposite in a sincere way that they would be better off doing that than pretending that they are doing something else.