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Thursday, 10 October 1985
Page: 962

Senator JESSOP(11.12) —I would like to speak for a few moments on this Bill because we are all interested in it and in the welfare of the Aboriginal people of Australia. I think it was quite appropriate that Senator Chipp should have drawn attention to the rather inflammatory remarks made by the Minister for Veterans' Affairs (Senator Gietzelt) because there is no need for that. It could conceivably inspire people on this side of the chamber, who are equally concerned about the subject before the Chair, to engage in similar tactics which I think are unnecessary.

We are dealing with an important issue and the Opposition I think has quite properly drawn attention to the fact that the Northern Territory Government was not consulted. I think that is uncalled for. Had the Northern Territory Government been consulted the Government may have modified its attitude to the question of this national monument which is part of our national heritage. Sometimes we lose sight of the fact that in Australia today something like 159,000 people claim to be Aborigines. Of that number, probably 35,000 to 50,000-it is pretty difficult to put a figure on it-could be regarded as traditional tribal Aborigines. With respect to this Bill I understand that of the order of 200 traditional owners have been identified. I just make that point because this area is of great significance and interest not only to the Aboriginal people but also to the 15 million other Australians who regard it as part of our national heritage. In particular, those people who have lived in the Northern Territory all their lives, probably fourth or fifth generation Australians, also should have been regarded as a little more important than the Government has chosen to regard them.

I would like to refer to Senator Kilgariff, who is unable to be here due to an unfortunate accident he had earlier in the week. As he has taken a great interest in this matter, I draw attention to some comments he made as recently as 9 October. He referred to a claim by Mr Clyde Holding, the Federal Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, that Ayers Rock would remain accessible to all Australians after its handover to the Mutitjulu Aboriginal community. He claims that that is very misleading and simply does not stand up to an examination of the facts. Senator Kilgariff referred to an incident on 28 September when Mr Irwin Chlanda, of Chlanda Pty Ltd Television and News Services in Alice Springs, was requested by a ranger of the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service to leave the precincts of Uluru National Park.

Senator Kilgariff pointed out that, prior to this incident, the Director of the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service, Professor Ovington, had stated that only those persons involved in filming for the purposes of producing entertainment or dramatic features need apply for a permit to film and that filming for news or documentary purposes did not require a permit. Senator Kilgariff went on to comment that on 28 September Mr Chlanda informed rangers of both the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Northern Territory Conservation Commission that he intended to undertake filming for news purposes. He informed the rangers out of courtesy, as under Professor Ovington's guidelines he was not required to inform anyone.

Later that day Mr Chlanda was approached by Mr Hicks of the ANPWS who said that in his judgment Mr Chlanda was filming a commercial and should therefore stop filming and leave the park. I think Senator Kilgariff was quite justified in making that comment publicly, as he did in a Press release yesterday. He ended by saying:

. . . this was just another example of an increasingly common complaint from persons wishing to film within the park.

If this attitude is supposed to reflect Mr Holding's assurances on the continued accessibility of the Park, it does not augur well for the future.

Those are the sorts of things that would concern everybody on this side of the House and that is the reason we drew attention to the fact that the Northern Territory Government was not appropriately consulted and that these rules and regulations concerning the filming of news items such as were referred to in Senator Kilgariff's comments could not have been clearly understood by everybody. It is clear from the statement he made that Mr Hicks of the ANPWS was obviously uninformed.

Certainly the referendum to which the Minister referred not only gave Aborigines an entitlement to be enrolled and to vote but also gave the Commonwealth powers to introduce legislation for their benefit. There is no dispute about that, but when we are dealing with sensitive Federal-State matters in this regard and with a national monument which is of interest to 15 million Australians as well as 159,000 people who claim to be Aborigines, I think it is incumbent on the Government to consult carefully and closely with the Northern Territory Government or any other Government where the Federal Government seeks to intrude its powers in relation to national parks of this character. I think it is very sensible and appropriate for the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Chaney) and the Opposition generally to support this amendment to decline to give this Bill a second reading because of its concern that the Northern Territory Government was not consulted in relation to alterations to the boundaries of the Petermann Land Trust or its effect in the Uluru National Park at any stage prior to the introduction of this Bill into the Parliament.