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Tuesday, 15 November 1983
Page: 2660

Mr PORTER —Did the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs receive a submission from the Pitjantjatjara Council in relation to Ayers Rock in April this year? I ask him whether on receipt of the submission he said, as reported by the Northern Territory News:

I said I would examine it and take it to Mr Everingham.

In view of the fact that yesterday Mr Everingham said:

I am staggered that the Federal Government would take such a decision--

he was referring to Ayers Rock-

without one word of consultation with the Northern Territory-

why did the Minister fail to consult with the Northern Territory Government as he had promised?

Mr HOLDING —The claims made by the Aboriginal people around Ayers Rock were made in about March or April. At my first meeting with Mr Everingham I discussed with him the desirability of having a common program of uniform park management in respect of both Ayers Rock and Kakadu National Park because, as the honourable member will be aware, the Northern Territory Government continues to lay claim to Kakadu National Park. I was aware of Mr Everingham's own policy.

Mr Hodgman —Did you discuss it?

Mr HOLDING —To that extent we were agreed. Mr Everingham in July 1982 in Canberra said that it was the policy of his Government to return--

Mr MacKellar —Did you discuss it or not?

Mr HOLDING —Will the honourable member let me answer it in my way or does he want a go, because he will not improve matters any.

Mr Hodgman —At least they do not call me paternalistic.

Mr HOLDING —I would hate to tell the honourable gentleman what they do call him.

Mr Goodluck —That is rude.

Mr HOLDING —That is what the honourable member calls it! There was no difference in the perception of Aboriginal claims. Mr Everingham-he is publicly on the record in this regard-believed that Ayers Rock ought to be handed back to Aboriginal people and title vested in them and the Northern Territory Government . The only difference between our policy and Mr Everingham's policy, as the Minister for Home Affairs and Environment and the Prime Minister have pointed out, is that we have taken the view that Territorian conservation interests and Territorian tourist interests ought to be represented on the management of these parks. The matter was discussed with Mr Everingham and by virtue of the fact that the policy was the same and the title--

Mr Hodgman —Shameful!

Mr HOLDING —Conversation with the States is a two way process. It is an odd view of the honourable gentleman opposite. He cannot have it both ways. Mr Everingham was involved in and understood both the claims of the Aboriginal people and the attitude of the Commonwealth. We implemented that policy. We have shown a readiness to talk with the Northern Territory Administration on a range of issues. That has not been reciprocated. It is odd that in those areas where the Commonwealth has constitutional priority the Northern Territory, time and again, in terms of excisions of leases and Acts, such as the criminal code, which substantially affect Aboriginal people, makes no attempt to confer with the Commonwealth. Conference is a two way process. When Mr Everingham wants to confer, we will be only to happy to accommodate him.