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Monday, 24 May 1993
Page: 1128


Senator GARETH EVANS (Minister for Foreign Affairs) (9.25 p.m.) —I am in a position to make available now to Senator Tambling—whether he desperately wants it right now or not—at least the answer to the factual question that was raised about additional section 64(7) grants. There have been just over $4 million of such grants to the Northern Land Council and $2.3 million to the Central Land Council. I now table that detailed reply in the event that Senator Tambling might be interested in it.

  In relation to the matter of the qualified audit raised in paragraph 19 of the report of Estimates Committee A, the Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs (Mr Tickner) has referred this matter to the Auditor-General. A response is not yet available. I am afraid that is the best we can do by way of giving further and better particulars on that specific matter.

  As to the other questions that are in draft form awaiting the Minister's attention, all I can say is that a message has been sent to the Minister. It is to be hoped that it will be possible for him to give some attention to this matter tonight, otherwise I am afraid the matter will have to wait until tomorrow.

  I mention again that there is nothing whatsoever in the additional appropriations for ATSIC which bear upon the NLC. In those circumstances the jurisdictional basis for these current fulminations seems a bit tenuous, to say the least. I understand Senator Tambling's concern to get these answers. I do not think it is entirely reasonable for him to be critical of the Minister's need to look at these matters when he has been out of the country for the last eight or nine days, which is almost the whole period since the estimates committee hearings were held. The Minister has only got back today. We will get the answers to Senator Tambling as soon as we possibly can. As I say, I have urged that that be expedited.