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Wednesday, 16 August 1989
Page: 214

(Question No. 1001)

Senator Boswell asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Arts, Tourism and Territories, upon notice, on 23 May 1989:

(1) With reference to the minute of 17 March 1989 from the Director of the Christmas Island Services Corporation to the Christmas Island Consultative Committee, which said he had a clear obligation to recover back rents if they were not paid voluntarily

(a) did an officer from the Christmas Island Administration deliver this minute to the Union of Christmas Island Workers (UCIW) office; if so, why;

(b) was the Department aware that this minute was to be delivered and what was the nature of any discussions the Department had about its delivery with officials on Christmas Island;

(c) why was the minute dated one day after the Federal Court's judgment in which the UCIW failed in its bid to have the selection of a successor phosphate operation reviewed;

(d) is the Department aware that the Administration officer who delivered this minute is purported to have said that, now the UCIW had lost its court case, the Services Corporation was going to sue Islanders for back debts; if so, is this true;

(e) did the Department inform the Minister for Arts and Territories (Mr Holding) that this minute was to be delivered; and

(f) had the Minister given any instructions to the Department as to whether or not such a message should be transmitted to Islanders; if so, what.

(2) Did material supplied by the Department of Administrative Services and Homes West on island housing recommend more than one rental structure for Christmas Islanders; if so, how many options were put to the Christmas Island Consultative Council.

Senator Richardson —The Minister for the Arts, Tourism and Territories has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) (a) Yes. It is not uncommon for material affecting members of the Union of Christmas Island Workers to be hand delivered to their office as there is no postal delivery service on the Island.

(b) No.

(c) The two dates in question are coincidental.

(d) No.

(e) No.

(f) The Minister wrote to the Director of the Christmas Island Services Corporation, Mr McCutcheon, on 15 December 1988 following advice from Mr McCutcheon that he intended instituting legal action to recover debts. The Minister's advice to Mr McCutcheon was that prior to instigating such action he should discuss the matter with the Christmas Island Consultative Group and seek the advice of the Australian Government Solicitor on how legal proceedings should take place.

(2) The Australian Construction Services/Homeswest housing report discussed three rent structure options but only one rental structure was recommended. The Department wrote to the Community Consultative Group on 16 March 1989 enclosing a copy of the report and seeking their comments prior to the report being finalised.