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Tuesday, 28 February 1984
Page: 82

(Question No. 481)

Senator Kilgariff asked the Minister for Resources and Energy, upon notice, on 8 November 1983:

(1) Does the Minister for Resources and Energy acknowledge the necessity for compensation to be paid to (a) the mining companies involved, which have, in good faith, spent millions of dollars in carrying out the Government's requirements for development of the uranium industry and to (b) the traditional Aboriginal owners of the land, who have given their permission for mining to be undertaken and who stand to lose some $200m if it is not, in view of the Press conference held by the Northern Territory Chief Minister, Paul Everingham, last Tuesday, at which he said he had instructed the Territory's Co-ordinator General to look into the question of compensation for the Territory if the future development of the uranium industry is stopped, and the statement by the Director of the Northern Land Council, Wesley Lanhupuy, on the Australian Broadcasting Commission's After 8 program in Darwin on 3 November 1983 when he said there is no doubt the Council could be approaching the Federal Government on the compensation issue.

(2) Does the Minister acknowledge that, no matter what amount the Government may settle on, compensation for the Northern Territory could not make up for the loss of the uranium industry.

(3) Will the Government review the decision and allow the development of the uranium industry in the Northern Territory.

Senator Walsh —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1), (2) and (3) The Government is advised that it has no legal obligation to pay compensation arising out of these matters. I point out that the decision taken in respect of existing mines in the Northern Territory provides a basis for maintaining development and revenue for the Northern Territory and employment and income for the relevant Aboriginal communities.

The Government envisages that the foreshadowed expansion of visitor facilities in the Kakadu National Park will generate a major expansion of economic and employment opportunities in the region. However, I note that during the recent Northern Territory election campaign the Country Liberal Party distributed a leaflet, bearing the photograph and name of the Chief Minister, which criticised development proposals made by the Labor Party as follows: 'Big numbers of tourists the Labor Party is planning to put in big hotels in the park under Balanda control will destroy Aboriginal self-determination and take away their control of the land.' This statement indicates that the Northern Territory Government is opposed to the proposed Kakadu tourist developments.