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Thursday, 6 December 1973
Page: 2617

Senator Jessop asked the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:

(   1 ) Did a deputation representing the Alice Springs Tourist Promotion Association and the Ayers Rock Progress Association travel from the Northern Territory to Canberra earlier in October 1973.

(2)   Did many of the members of the deputation pay their own fares and incur other heavy expenses as a result of their visit to Canberra.

(3)   Were arrangements made for the deputation to see the then Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, the Minister for Transport, the Minister for Tourism and Recreation and the then Minister for the Northern Territory; if so, did the first three Ministers not attend the meeting and was the then Minister for the Northern Territory two hours late.

(4)   Has the Prime Minister received a letter of protest from the Associations.

(5)   Will the Minister, in view of the fact that the deputation is anxious to effect early development of facilities in the Ayers Rock area due to increased tourist interest, inform the Senate which of the Ministers referred to in (3) have responsibility for Ayers Rock, so that effective representations may by made on this matter.

Senator Cavanagh - The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1)   Yes.

(2)   I have no information as to the costs incurred by the individual members of the deputation. (3)I understand that, while my ministerial colleagues were anxious to join in discussions with the deputation, they were prevented from doing so by Parliamentary commmitments. The deputation's leader, Mr J. Nelson, the Mayor of Alice Springs, subsequently wrote to my predecessor and, I understand, the other Ministers involved, that 'the position was understood by myself as one of the hazards to be accepted when arranging meetings of this kind '.

(4)   The Prime Minister received a letter dated 3 1 October on this subject from the Alice Springs Tourist Promotion Association.

(5)   The written submission which the deputation left with Ministers represents an effective statement of the deputation's views. The future of Ayers Rock was also the subject of a report by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Environment and Conservation, recently tabled in the House of Representatives. I expect that the views of the deputation as contained in its submission will be taken into account by the Government when considering the report of the Standing Committee on Environment and Conservation.

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