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Tuesday, 5 September 1989
Page: 990


Senator BOSWELL(8.42) -Opposition amendments (22) to (31) moved by my colleague Senator Peter Baume should not give Senator Coulter any reason not to support them. Senator Coulter has been consistent in wanting to see the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) under self-management. There is no way in the world that a commission such as this could claim to have self-determination or self-management if the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs appoints the executive officer. For all sorts of reasons enunciated by Senator Baume, it just will not work. If the Commission is to work and to truly represent self-management and self-determination, it has to have the capacity to appoint its executive officer. If it cannot do that successfully, the whole ATSIC proposal falls to the ground. I could wax lyrical on all the things that could or could not happen. If the Minister has the right to hire and fire the executive, that person becomes a servant of the Minister; and I do not think we need that. I am sure we do not need that.

Many of us on this side of the Parliament have misgivings about the whole concept of ATSIC. I think the Australian Democrats and the National and Liberal parties are determined that if ATSIC has any chance of working-and, quite frankly, I do not think it will work in an iron lung-we have got to give it a go; and the only way we can do that is to let the Commission have the right to determine whom it hires and fires and who its executive officer will be. I say to Senator Coulter, the Democrats spokesman, that if this amendment is not carried the confidence that he is putting in ATSIC will be misplaced and ATSIC just will not work.