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Thursday, 3 November 1983
Page: 2290

Mr HOLLIS —Has the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs seen reports that the Kempsey Shire Council will reduce the water supply to the Aboriginal reserve at Burnt Bridge and provide one tap for 130 Aborigines on the reserve? Is it true that the Council has taken $9,000 of a Federal Government grant which was to be used for an Aboriginal training program?

Mr HOLDING —I have seen the reports in the Press this morning concerning these allegations. I am concerned that a community of some 130 Aboriginals should be restricted to only one tap for their water supply. The Aboriginal reserve is Burnt Bridge, which is held by the State Minister. Arrangements were made earlier this week for a meeting between the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, the State Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs, the Aboriginal Development Commission, the Ngaku Aboriginal Housing Co. and the Kempsey Shire Council to take place on Friday, 11 November, to sort out responsibilities for payments of excess water rates and to ensure that a program of repairs to the water pipes will go ahead as smoothly and as quickly as possible.

Tenders for the repair of the water pipes close on 9 November. A grant of $50, 000 has been allocated by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs for repairs to those pipes and that funding will be made available immediately the contract has been let for the work. There is no truth to the allegation that the $50,000 that has been made available will be withdrawn. I am aware that the Kempsey Shire Council obtained a court order on the bank account of the Ngaku Aboriginal Housing Co. for payment of outstanding water rates. This and the other matters at issue will be discussed at the meeting on 9 November. I hope that on that date any outstanding difficulties between the Council and the Aboriginal community will be resolved to the satisfaction of everyone.