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Monday, 22 November 1993
Page: 3375


Senator PANIZZA (9.04 p.m.) —My name was not on the speakers' list.


Senator Collins —No, it wasn't.


Senator PANIZZA —That is all right; I have a right to speak on whatever bill I want to. My name was not on the list, but seeing that Senator Chamarette had something to say about my inquiry and that the minister had his own jibes along the way I just thought I would put a few facts straight.


Senator Collins —It would be a world first.


Senator PANIZZA —The minister has been known to take his time, too. Anyone could be excused this evening, listening to Senator Chamarette, for thinking that her delivery in this debate was to do with my proposed inquiry. She had her chance at the time—and I do not know whether she picked it up or not—to talk on my motion. But I know that since she and the Democrats helped defeat my motion their offices have been hounded by people asking them for reasons why they did not support it. I know that. So Senator Chamarette took it upon herself tonight to get up and explain things to those people who may have been listening, or she may put it in writing and send it off. Maybe that is why she did not support my motion.

  I said at the time that my inquiry was about accountability and nothing else. I never questioned the amount of money going into ATSIC. I said it was entirely a matter of accountability, and accountability alone. Senator Chamarette and Senator Kernot used the excuse that there was another inquiry going on in another place, namely the ATSIC standing committee in the House of Representatives, which was charged with looking at the Auditor-General's report. That was why I decided to move for an inquiry—going on the Auditor-General's report and the demand I have had from a lot of Aboriginal communities around Australia.

  Senator Chamarette knows who they are because they have got on to her—the Gubrun in Kalgoorlie, the Ozies clan in Broome and various communities in Perth. They have been on to Senator Chamarette's and Senator Kernot's offices as well as mine looking for an inquiry. That is why I proposed the idea of an inquiry and they decided to go agin it. I was happy to accept the decision at the time and said that it was only the end of the beginning. Senator Kernot used the excuse that there was an ATSIC election coming. I offered to Senator Kernot to put it off until next year. She did not accept that. I was prepared to put it off to next year, but no, Senator Kernot did not take that one up. She used this inquiry.

  As I said in an interjection, she will have another chance next year. I have put forward that if that committee has not properly addressed the matter by next year then she will have another chance to do exactly what I was trying to do this year. I think it was Senator Kernot who mentioned that we want to put on ATSIC a higher degree of accountability than we put on someone else, but she did not put forward any argument as to why she believed that. I have never proposed putting a higher degree of accountability on anyone than I am prepared to accept myself. As I have said before, Senator Kernot and Senator Chamarette will have their chance next year, but they should not accuse me—or my colleagues, for that matter—of trying to impose a higher degree of accountability on ATSIC than we impose on anyone else.