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Wednesday, 3 October 1984
Page: 1484

Mr TUCKEY(3.23) —We have just heard a remarkable speech from the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Holding). The Minister had 15 minutes in which to assure the people of Australia of his policy and he spent all of that time trying to denigrate the Opposition's policy. He deliberately and consciously avoided making any statement here today on where he stands on Aboriginal land rights. He is willing to criticise a State Premier but in this place today he is not prepared--

Mr Holding —Do you support land rights?

Mr TUCKEY —You have had your go; keep quiet, you silly man!


Mr Holding —Do you support land rights?

Mr TUCKEY —Madam Deputy Speaker, you never stopped him.

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! Would the honourable member resume his seat? The Minister will cease interjecting across the table and heed the Chair. I call the honourable member for O'Connor.

Mr TUCKEY —The Minister is prepared to criticise two State Opposition leaders, yet not once did he say what he would do if they carried out the policies to which they have committed themselves. They have the courage to say where they stand, for better or for worse.

Mr Holding —Do you support land rights?

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! The Minister has already been warned. He will now not interject.

Mr TUCKEY —However, the Minister is not prepared to tell us what the Commonwealth would do. That is the situation we have arrived at today and it is a far cry from that which prevailed when the new boy came to this place. He is quoted in a Department of Aboriginal Affairs Canberra document dated 25 July 1983 as follows:

Mr Holding said consensus was what he would be aiming for in the talks with the States culminating in uniform land rights legislation to be introduced in the Budget session next year.

Something has happened to that too. The document continues:

He said: 'I don't want to twist anybody's arm but there may be occasions when we have to break a few.'

What have we had today? The Minister cannot even find people's arms today. He has just ducked for cover and he has nothing whatsoever to say. What is the situation we have? We have the Holding statement brought to this Parliament. This dreamtime person brought it in here and told us what he would do. He gave us the issues. He stated that Aboriginal land was to be held under inalienable freehold title. In the five principles he also refers to:

Aboriginal control in relation to mining on Aboriginal land; access to mining royalty equivalent;

Is that the Minister's position? The Minister has just endorsed Premier Burke's position. Premier Burke tells us in paragraph L of his statement of principles- he claims he has principles; I think he doubts that the Minister has:

The Government asserts that minerals are the property of the Crown. The control of royalty payments will remain the prerogative of the Government.

That control will not remain with the Aborigines. You have just endorsed that. That is what you did a minute ago. Or is it that you feel that that is the appropriate position to take a month before an election because you do not mind being able to roll your colleagues in Western Australia?

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mrs Child) —Order! The honourable member will speak through the Chair, not directly to the Minister.

Mr TUCKEY —Madam Deputy Speaker, is it the Minister's policy? Maybe you can answer the question. You sit in the caucus with him. Is it just a sham? Have all these people in Western Australia been misled by the Premier of Western Australia? Is it a fact that the mining lobby that is patting itself on the back this week cannot count its chickens because this Minister, who has just nodded his head, has confirmed that it is still right that there will be Aboriginal control in relation to mining on Aboriginal land, and there will be access to mining royalties? It is recorded in Hansard that he said: 'Yes, yes'. The Premier of Western Australia is assuring the mining industry that it can be right with him because that is his policy. Included in the Premier's policy-some of my colleagues here might be interested to know this-is paragraph M which states:

There will be no veto of mining or exploration.

We are not sure whether that is applicable in every area or just to Aboriginal areas. However, we know that that is what the Premier of New South Wales has said. This apology for a Minister for Aboriginal Affairs thinks he has a policy. I well remember his approach to the Nicholson inquiry. He told it that it was permitted to tell lies to a political enemy. That is a philosophy which is laid down in black and white under oath by this Minister when he was called as a witness on the notorious Richmond Council inquiry.

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member will stick to the terms of the matter of public importance; it does not include the Nicholson inquiry.

Mr TUCKEY —Madam Deputy Speaker, I certainly will. I am warning people.

Mr Hand —Ask Austin Lewis about the Nicholson inquiry. He can tell you--

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for Melbourne will cease interjecting. He is not helping the Chair.

Mr TUCKEY —He said that it is a fair go to tell fibs to a political enemy. Who will be the political enemies of this Minister in this business? We know that this Minister has failed, in the 15 minutes which were given to him, to say a simple few words. Those few words are: 'Our policy at this time is'.

Mr Holding —What is your policy?

Mr TUCKEY —On this issue I will read to the Minister what the Federal Liberal policy is. The Federal Liberal policy states:

Federal Legislation

We opposed the imposition--

Mr Holding —Do you support land rights? Just tell us.

Mr TUCKEY —Madam Deputy Speaker, I have the call.

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! The Minister has already been asked not to interject. I reinforce the request.

Mr TUCKEY —Our policy states:

We opposed the imposition on the States of Federal uniform land rights legislation when in Government and we maintain our opposition to such legislation.

That statement is clear enough. It is as clear as the typewritten print. The fact of life is that that is the position and always has been the position of the Liberal Party since Aboriginal land rights legislation has been around. The Minister has said some interesting things in that wonderful statement I quoted from earlier. He said that that was going to change the world which he has now forgotten existed. His own has probably been hanging on the back door of a certain room for some time. He states on page 22 of his statement:

Human Rights are more important than 'State Rights'.

Just in case everybody did not get it, he said later in his statement:

I repeat: the human rights of Aboriginal and Islander Australians must take precedence over 'State Rights'.

A few questions have been put to me by way of interjection by the Minister but it may be time he asked himself a question as to what he believes are State rights. By some peculiar feat, which is not difficult for a person of his makeup and interest in centralised government and all that, it is not unusual for him to think that State rights mean the institution of the State.

I have a different view. I say that it is the right of the people living in that State. In the State in which I live those people have given a very clear message to the Premier about what they want. He has not gone as far as his colleagues in their conferences. As we know, their view has not changed. They are still telling people at Federal and State level that there will be land rights, there will be total control over mining, and there will be Aboriginal veto. But in the light of that pressure, the Premier of Western Australia has at least taken some notice of what the people of Western Australia are telling him.

Is that not terrible? Is it not horrible that these people should have a view, and that they might like to think that things should be as they wanted when they elected parliament, be it State or Federal? This Minister has never checked it. He got carried away with his urban tunnel vision. He has never been out there. What did he do when he was given a message stick? He was so dumb and inexperienced that he put it in his pocket thinking that it was a peg. This is the man who is given this job when there are people even in the Labor Party who have lived a little closer to Aboriginal people and who would have a better understanding of what they are. But it is traditional that we send out people of this nature to make these decisions.

What are some of the other things that the Minister has said? He quotes Mr Justice Woodward, saying that in 1974 Mr Justice Woodward said that to deny Aborigines the right to prevent mining on their land was to deny the reality of land rights. The Minister was reported in the Daily News of 2 May 1984 as having said:

Let me make it quite clear that the present Government will continue to endorse that view.

What has happened to those fine views today, as we face an election and some popularity polls and the words of his fellow Ministers and his Prime Minister and others? They say: 'Don't do it, Clyde; it is bad news out in the electorate' . That is how much principle this man has. He could not break an arm or even a little finger at present on this issue. He has gone to water. What is more, he is not prepared to say what his position is. Having been given 15 minutes, he thanked us for the time and gave us an expose of our own policy-which we believe is okay and will do the job, particularly because it grants rights to people within a State to make decisions about land which is theirs. I just wonder what this Minister's position would be if, for instance, the Upper House in Western Australia threw out the legislation entirely. What would he do?

Mr Holding —What is your position?

Mr TUCKEY —I am not the Government. You are the Government. You wanted to act like the Opposition. You were average in opposition; you are a failure in government.

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mrs Child) —Order! The honourable member may continue. His time has not yet expired.

Mr TUCKEY —I do not need any more, Madam Deputy Speaker. I think that I have closed on a good point.