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Friday, 1 September 1989
Page: 785

Senator COULTER(9.49) —I would like to return to the words of Senator Boswell which I thought were absolutely appropriate to this whole debate. Unfortunately, underlying a lot of this debate there is an attitude of paternalism, and an unwillingness to trust Aboriginal people. I think Senator Collins made the point in his speech the other day, also very eloquently, that with respect to this whole package it may be that this legislation does not work-it may be that it does fail. But those of us who are supporting the package as a whole are making a judgment that, the Aboriginal people have to be given an opportunity to give it a go and they have to be trusted. It is no good simply going halfway. If we are fair dinkum about self-determination and self-management, that also means the right to fail as well as the right to succeed. Let us remember that there are many white proposals and structures which fail also.

Senator Collins —Spectacularly.

Senator COULTER —Spectacularly so, as Senator Collins points out.

Senator Stone —How about the Western Australian Government?

Senator COULTER —Yes, as Senator Stone says. One could perhaps reflect on the Queensland Government too while we are there. Let us just remember that failure is not a unique privilege of Aboriginal people, and the right to succeed or the right to fail, and the right to make mistakes, is something that must be granted to them. I see these series of amendments in that light. I also ask the Opposition to bear Senator Boswell's words very much in mind when we get to the debate on the main Bill, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission Bill.

Amendments agreed to.