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Wednesday, 27 October 1993
Page: 2614

Senator TAMBLING —My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs. I ask: what urgency and response has Mr Tickner given to the 17 questions that were raised by the Northern Territory Minister for Aboriginal Development, Mr Steve Hatton, at the ministerial conference of Aboriginal affairs ministers in Brisbane last week? There were, I believe, two on consultation with the states and territories, three on the land acquisition fund, three on pastoral leases, six on equivalent native title and three on just terms on acquisition. How many questions were asked by ministers from other states at that conference; and when will answers be given to the questions raised by the state ministers?

Senator COLLINS —Is that the best Senator Tambling can do? The answer to that question is, of course, yes, it is the best he can do. I do not have any answers; nor do I have any advice from the Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs as to how many questions were asked at that conference of people from all states and territories in Australia. I have no idea. But I will refer Senator Tambling's question to the Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs and get a response.

  The one thing I have to say is this: it would come as a blinding relief and a breath of fresh air to the Northern Territory's 25 per cent Aboriginal population the day that Senator Tambling actually decides to give them a bit of support instead of non-stop opposition.

Senator TAMBLING —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. The minister obviously cannot hear. The initial question I asked was: what urgency and response is Mr Tickner proposing to this matter? Given the serious issues that those questions raise for Aboriginal constituents, whether they are within the Northern Territory or elsewhere in Australia, I would have anticipated that Senator Collins would have had a brief on those important issues raised at a ministerial conference and would have been in a position to inform this parliament about the extent and the importance of those issues for Aboriginal people.

Senator COLLINS —Despite the fact that Senator Tambling has just repeated the question, the only difference being that he is now in pompous-angry mode—and, of course, we are very familiar with what he looks like in pompous-angry mode—I cannot usefully add anything to the answer I have already given.