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Monday, 24 May 1993
Page: 1067

Senator CHAMARETTE —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Attorney-General. Has the Attorney-General received a referral for advice from the Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs on an application by Mr Robert Bropho and others for protection of Helena Valley in Western Australia under sections 9 and 10 of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Act 1984? What mechanism exists in the Act to make such a referral? Does the referral seek advice on whether the application is frivolous or vexatious? If so, what mechanism will the Attorney-General employ to determine whether the application is frivolous or vexatious? When does the Attorney-General anticipate furnishing the Minister with advice on this matter?

Senator BOLKUS —I do have some information on this matter but I do not think it is as much as Senator Chamarette would like. I am informed that the Attorney-General's Department has been asked to provide advice but the rest of the information I have on the matter does not go directly to the questions Senator Chamarette raises. I do not know whether in any event it can, given the fact that the senator is asking for legal advice and also for advice that has been provided to one of the Attorney-General's Department's clients. However, I will take the further questions the senator puts to me on notice and see what other information I can provide for her.

Senator CHAMARETTE —Mr President, I wish to ask a supplementary question. In the light of the High Court decision against the Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs regarding his failure to respond to an application for protection of the Swan Brewery area, what effect is this delay—by referral to the Attorney-General's Department—likely to cause in the protection of the area under the current application?

Senator BOLKUS —This question goes to legal issues and issues that relate very much to the facts of a case that is or may be before the courts. I do not know whether I can provide any further information but if I can I will.