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Tuesday, 12 June 1984
Page: 2799

Senator REYNOLDS —I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs whether she is aware that the National Party leader, Mr Sinclair, currently touring Queensland Aboriginal and Islander communities, is quoted as saying:

There is only one way to find out what Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders are seeking and that is to visit them.

Does the Minister have any information which suggests that this fact finding tour indicates National Party dissatisfaction with the Queensland Premier's community services legislation in that State which has been overwhelmingly rejected by Queensland's Aborigines and Islanders? Furthermore, has the Minister been informed whether, in view of the National Party leader's change of heart, the heritage legislation will now have the support of the Opposition in this place?

Senator RYAN —I am not sure whether my colleague Mr Holding, the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, is aware of Mr Sinclair's activities in Queensland or of the statements he has been making, but I am sure that Mr Holding, as I am, will be pleased to hear that the National Party, at least on the face of it, is making some effort to meet with Aboriginal and Islander communities to find out their response. Of course, when the National Party does that, if indeed it is a genuine exercise on Mr Sinclair's part, it will find enormous dissatisfaction by Aboriginal and Islander communities in relation to the services legislation, for very good reason. I hope that Mr Sinclair is engaged on a genuine exercise. If he is, he may be able to persuade his colleague the Premier of Queensland, Mr Bjelke-Petersen, that the services legislation does not fulfil any of our undertakings to the Aboriginal and Islander communities with regard to security of land. Nor, indeed, does it secure any of the undertakings given by the coalition when in government. I hope the exercise will lead to an improved understanding of the issues on behalf of the National Party and their Liberal coalition partners.