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First Milestone in ATSIC elections.

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First Milestone in ATSIC Elections

IPS 053/2002

The first milestone has been reached in the 2002 ATSIC Regional Council elections campaign with a substantial boost in the number of candidates seeking office, the Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Philip Ruddock said today.

Nominations for the elections opened on August 20 and officially closed at 5pm on Wednesday 18 September.

"I have been advised that a preliminary analysis of the nominations from across the country shows a substantial increase in those seeking elected office, particularly among women and young people," Mr Ruddock said

"A total of 1164 nominations have been received for the 388 Regional Councillor positions in 115 wards across the country," he added.

"A significant increase in the number of people nominating has been recorded in every State and Territory, expect South Australia and the Northern Territory.

"The number of people nominating has been maintained in South Australia but I have been advised that there has been a 17 per cent increase in the number of women candidates this time around.

"The national total of candidates compares with 1044 nominations for 388 positions in 124 wards at the 1999 elections, but this figure included 25 nominations from Tasmania, where nominations have yet to open given the delayed poll on the Island state.

"These figures are a clear demonstration of the intense interest in ATSIC elected office amongst Indigenous Australians.

"They also show the effect of ATSIC and the Australian Electoral Commission's promotional campaign which has been well targeted. Their focus on women and young people has produced a great result.

"I would now hope to see an increased turnout of voters at the October 19 poll.

"The elections are a great opportunity for all Indigenous Australians to ensure their voice is heard. They allow everyone to choose the people they want to represent them."

Mr Ruddock hosted a reception at Parliament House on Wednesday night for the outgoing ATSIC Board of Commissioners. Those in attendance included the Prime Minister, Mr John Howard.

"The reception allowed me to acknowledge the constructive and frank relationship the Government has developed with the ATSIC Board," Mr Ruddock said.

"I wish all of the current Board members who have nominated for re-election all the best in their endeavours and look forward to forming a similar relationship with the incoming Board."

19 September 2002

*Editor's please note: Voters will go to the polls on October 19 in all States and Territories apart from Tasmania, where the polling day will be Tuesday, November 12 because of the Indigenous electoral roll trial on the island.