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Monday, 4 September 1989
Page: 914

Senator TATE (Minister for Justice)(10.13) —This is the burden of the honourable senator's next two or three amendments, should they pass. It is already down here that the arrangements should operate through a Minister as far as making grants of money to the States is concerned. It is not inconsistent with section 96. Section 96 says that the Parliament may make such grants of financial assistance to the States on such terms and conditions as it thinks fit. It does not talk about agreements. That is the big difference.

The particular provision that we are inserting into this Bill talks about the capacity of the Commission to enter into an agreement with a State for the payment of a grant to a State or to the Northern Territory. It is a two-way process. It requires consensus on both sides. It requires a meeting of minds of the State government negotiating and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission. Senator Baume is looking up the actual words but I think he will find that it merely talks about a grant of financial assistance and it does not have this contractual-consensual agreement element in it. I believe that that is the heart of the matter-that if a State does not come to an agreement, then there is no meeting of minds, there is no fruitful negotiation and that is the major difference with section 96. Of course, this does not prevent the Commonwealth Government making a grant to a State government on such terms and conditions as it thinks fit under section 96; it does not affect that capacity at all.