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Hill forum shopping to 'do-over' sacred site.

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Hill Forum Shopping To 'Do-Over' Sacred Site Nick Bolkus - Shadow Minister for Environment and Heritage

Media Statement - 6 June 2000

Senator Hill's last minute attempt to reopen the Boobera Lagoon issue by calling for a Section 10 inquiry is an unconscionable abuse of process to the detriment of indigenous Australia" said Senator Nick Bolkus, Shadow Minister for Environment and Heritage.

In 1996, Mr Hal Wootten AC QC provided the original s.10 advice to Government under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act.

The advice was the result of a full and open inquiry, which documented the importance of the lagoon to the indigenous community and recommended a prompt exclusion of water skiing and power boating as it represented desecration of a sacred place.

The Wootten report was originally delivered to the Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs in April 1996, but was not tabled until more than a year later.

However, in a last minute bid to intervene, Senator Hill is currently seeking advice under the Act on whether the ban commencement could be delayed by a further 12 months.

"This issue has been worked out over a number of years" said Senator Nick Bolkus. "By calling for another review under s.10, Senator Hill is showing contempt for due process and is subverting the work of his own colleague."

"Indigenous owners have waited for years for the recommendations of the inquiry to be implemented" said Senator Bolkus. "A delay in consideration, followed by a delay in decision is now compounded by further stalling tactics from Senator Hill."

"Not only have indigenous Australians been betrayed by Hill's forum shopping, but Senator Herron admitted to a Senate Estimates Committee on 24 May that Senator Hill did not consult either ATSIC or the Office of Indigenous Policy on this issue.

"He has blatantly disregarded due process and it raises serious issues of political leadership and integrity of Government."

"We now have a situation where secret bids from unidentified people with direct access to the Minister have resulted in the indigenous community being done over yet again by

the Howard Government."

"To this Government, it is quite apparent that jetskiing and power boats garner more respect than an established sacred site.

Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.