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Thursday, 6 May 1993
Page: 276

Senator TAMBLING (4.28 p.m.) —I move:

  That the Senate take note of the report.

The Tiwi Land Council is that area of administration that is generally known to many people as encompassing the Bathurst and Melville islands to the north of Darwin. It is also an important small land council and a breakaway group from the Northern Land Council, which has been so controversial and which has obviously not met the aspirations of Aboriginal people. The Tiwi Land Council has been operating for some time. It engages in a number of commercial activities on behalf of Aboriginal people. The report highlights many issues. I wish to comment on three. The first issue is—and I quote from the Chairman's report:

. . . the growing interest and academic success of our younger people at diploma and University access level. Sixty-seven Tiwi students, comprising 4.5 per cent of our population, are studying at tertiary level. . . Ten years ago we recognised the future required proud and secure Tiwi people. The welfare net may save our bodies, but our hopes were drowning. We still have much to do, but there is now evidence of a belief in our future.

  The second issue relates to what the Tiwi Land Council believes to be a census anomaly. The census has identified a declining Tiwi population in the area and the Land Council is taking steps to ascertain what is happening to the population. I note that there are particular illness problems on the Tiwi Islands. Further in the report mention is made of the incidence of kidney disease in the Tiwi Islands and the important work that is going on there by the Menzies School of Health Research.

  The third issue that the chairman has drawn to our attention is that of the mining views and the views of others who seek to influence the Tiwi people. Again I quote from the report of the Chairman, Mr Kerinaiua:

. . . we . . . were very surprised at the determination of non-Tiwi people to tell us what we should do. Stories that our land would sink and disappear or blow-up in an atomic explosion, were told to frighten us. Our visits to existing mineral and sand projects allowed us to see just what goes on.

There are important prospects for sandmining on the north of Melville Island and the Tiwi Land Council will have to deal with those matters very intricately, and I know they are doing so very responsibly. It is a pleasure to note the keenness, the determination, of this particular community and the fact that their accounts are unqualified. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

  Leave granted; debate adjourned.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Teague) —I interpose to say that I have noticed Senator Tierney, Senator Macdonald and Senator Spindler rising to get the call, and there is time for about four more speakers. I shall call paper No. 33, the Northern Land Council, before going to No. 36 for Senator Tierney, No. 19 for Senator Macdonald and then No. 35 for Senator Spindler. By then our time will probably have elapsed.