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Tuesday, 15 November 1983
Page: 2655

Mr REEVES —Can the Prime Minister confirm that the Federal Government's decision to transfer title of Uluru (Ayers Rock-Mount Olga) National Park to the Aboriginal traditional owners will not jeopardise tourist access and, specifically, the development of the Yulara tourist scheme?

Mr HAWKE —I can provide these assurances to the honourable member: The decision of the Government in regard to the Uluru National Park explicitly provides for a lease-back arrangement to be negotiated with the relevant Aboriginal land trust to ensure the continuation of the Uluru National Park. It also provides for an advisory board to be established, comprising representatives-and I ask the House to notice the wide range of representation on that advisory board-of the Commonwealth Parliament, the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly, the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service, the Northern Territory Conservation Commission, the Aboriginal traditional owners and the Northern Territory tourist industry. That advisory board will provide policy guidance for the management and operation of the park.

I believe that all members of the House will be pleased to know that today the members of the Central Land Council and the Pitjantjatjara Land Council welcomed the arrangements announced by the Government. I had hoped that the Opposition would welcome them too.

Most importantly, the Central Land Council and the Pitjantjatjara Land Council specifically stated today that the arrangements announced pose no threat to tourist access to Ayers Rock and Uluru National Park. They specifically welcome the Yulara project. It is significant, I suggest, that the House should note that in Canberra in July 1982 the Chief Minister indicated the willingness of his Government to grant secure title of Uluru National Park to the Aboriginal traditional owners although, of course, it must be remembered that the park has always been owned by the national government. In these circumstances we are very much entitled to ask ourselves just what it is that the Chief Minister is about. It is quite clear that he is callously seeking to develop this into an election issue, whatever the consequences for the development of the tourist industry of the Northern Territory.

So that it can be quite clear even in the minds of members of the Opposition as to how this matter has been callously manipulated by the Chief Minister against the interests-

Opposition members interjecting-

Mr HAWKE —I cite three documents to establish the point I make. The first is a telex sent to me yesterday by Mr Everingham. It states in part:

Your decision on Uluru National Park has jeopardised-

and I ask every honourable member to note what the Chief Minister was saying to me yesterday-

delicate financial negotiations to raise massive international borrowings to finance construction of the Yulara tourist village.

That is the first document.

Opposition members interjecting-

Mr HAWKE —Honourable members should wait until they hear the next two documents. We will see whether they make so much noise then. The second document is a telex also sent yesterday from a Mr Roger Davis of the Brisbane office of Citicorp Australia Holdings Ltd to the Under-Secretary of the Northern Territory Treasury . I understand that the full text of this telex was handed out yesterday by the Chief Minister at a Press conference in Darwin. This is document no. 2. Let us listen carefully to this one:

At this stage I believe it is sufficient for your purposes-

Mr Davis prefaced his remarks by referring to the telephone conversation that had taken place earlier in the morning. This is the follow-up collusive telex--

Opposition members interjecting-

Mr HAWKE —Opposition members should wait until they hear the third document and they will not be oohing and ahing. The second document, the telex from Mr Roger Davis to the Under-Secretary, states:

At this stage I believe it is sufficient for your purposes to appreciate that the banks will probably be unwilling to advance funds to Yulara until they have sighted and approved the proposed lease arrangements with the Aboriginals . . . I trust this helps you in your discussions this morning. Whilst we are both optimistic and believe common sense will prevail I think we may have a long wait on our hands.

He says in conclusion:

These comments are dictated in a hurry and I hope they are acceptable.

What is quite clear is that this was an attempt at collusion masterminded by the Chief Minister and his officials without any concern for the interests of the Northern Territory.

That brings me to the third document. Fortunately the Chairman of Citicorp Australia is not prepared to let his bank be used as part of this cheap political exercise by Mr Everingham. In a Press statement released late this morning and--

Mr Howard —Did you get Keating to offer him a licence?

Mr ACTING SPEAKER —Order! The Deputy Leader of the Opposition will come to order .

Mr HAWKE —I hope the interjection will be recorded in Hansard. That is a measure of the morality of honourable members opposite. That may be a method of operation with which the Opposition is acquainted but it is not our method. In this statement, which is a clear repudiation of the Chief Minister's duplicity, this is what has been advised by the Chairman of Citicorp:

Firstly, the recently announced change of ownership of the Uluru National Park should not change the underlying security arrangements for foreign loans for the project. Secondly, the bridging finance already committed would continue to be available provided the Northern Territory Government and its corporation continue to support the Yulara tourist scheme. Finally, Citicorp and the other banks involved in the project are still working towards the original deadline of 24 November for signing the international syndicated term facility.

I call on the Chief Minister to explain to the people of Australia why he has been prepared, in his handling of this matter, deliberately to attempt to sabotage a project which will bring employment and enhanced economic activity to the Territory.