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Tuesday, 14 October 2008
Page: 17

Senator SIEWERT (2:29 PM) —My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Senator Evans. My question concerns the recent police raid on Kunoth town camp in Alice Springs, which residents described as an ‘over-the-top terrorist like raid’. Is the minister aware of this raid? Can the minister tell the Senate how many police were involved and whether they were exclusively Northern Territory Police or whether Federal Police or police seconded from other states were involved? Were members of the NT tactical response group involved? Were police wearing bulletproof vests or other riot gear? Did they have weapons drawn? How many houses were raided? How long did the raid take?

Senator CHRIS EVANS (Minister for Immigration and Citizenship) —I thank Senator Siewert for the question. I suspect that even if I had a brief I would not be able to answer all those questions in one go, but I do not have any advice on that particular incident. While I can try to get the minister’s response as quickly as possible, I have no personal knowledge of the incident nor a brief on the details of it. So I am afraid I cannot help the senator in terms of providing any information now, but I will take it on notice and provide her with what I can as soon as possible.

Senator SIEWERT —Maybe I should give you a few facts. This was a raid on the town camp in response to a toy gun—

The PRESIDENT —Senator Siewert, it is question time. You are entitled to ask a supplementary question, so it is acceptable if you put it in the form of a question.

Senator SIEWERT —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Is the minister aware that this was a raid in response to the sighting of a toy gun on a car dashboard? Is this a normal response by the police in the Northern Territory? Is the minister aware that there was a similar incident a week ago at Trucking Yards Camp, where a woman who was playing cards was tasered by police? What steps is the government taking to improve police relationships in the Northern Territory as a result of the NT intervention?

Senator CHRIS EVANS (Minister for Immigration and Citizenship) —I do not think I can assist with the supplementary question, given that I do not have a brief on the issue.

Senator Ian Macdonald —You should know all these things!

Senator CHRIS EVANS —I just asked Senator Scullion whether he knew about it, but he didn’t seem very helpful either! So I am not sure it has been as much at the forefront of some of our minds as it perhaps should have been. I do acknowledge the senator’s interest in the area and the serious concerns that she has raised, but I just do not have a brief. I will take her supplementary question on notice as well and try to get her an answer.