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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 06 Hansard (Wednesday, 20 September 1995) . . Page.. 1593 ..


It often requires coordination of a large number of agencies and the commitment of both resources and energy by those agencies. I realise that scarce resources also mean prioritising of tasks. However, it is my view that there can be few higher priorities for any government than redressing the acute disadvantage and disempowerment of Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders over the past 200 years. I commit the Labor team to being vigilant watchdogs over progress in this matter - not, I repeat, in order to score political points; rather to ensure that empowerment of Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders does become reality rather than mere rhetoric.

MRS CARNELL (Chief Minister) (4.40), in reply: I think I made it very clear when I tabled the response on 30 May this year that the response I was giving was predominantly with regard to the previous Government's reactions or what they had put in place as a result of the implementation of the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. In fact, by its very nature it had to be, because it was the 1993-94 ACT Government report. I think that is an appropriate approach, and I made it very clear when I was speaking that we were talking about things the previous Government had done.

There are two things that need to be clarified. The new ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Consultative Council has now been appointed, and it held its first meeting on 21 August 1995. One of the members of that new consultative council is Ms Matilda House, and I am very pleased that she has decided to take that position. We hope that the new consultative council does represent all of the different groups in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. We have changed the approach somewhat and allowed the council itself to elect its chairperson, which we believed was an appropriately democratic approach to the new council; and we will see how well that works in the future.

The other issue Ms Follett spoke about was the issue of the last ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Consultative Council recommendations with regard to the cultural complex. Ms Follett seemed to suggest that their recommendation was to have the facility co-located with the Federal Government’s Gallery of Aboriginal Australia. In Ms Follett's press release on the issue, which was put out on 25 January 1995, a long time before the election and certainly a long time before the land swap, she said:

The ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Council has indicated to me that it prefers a site on Acton Peninsula.

Ms Follett: I prefer Yarramundi; so do you. They wanted Acton.

MRS CARNELL: The council actually suggested that they wanted Acton Peninsula, not Yarramundi; co-located with the gallery, but on Acton Peninsula. It is just an interesting clarification of comments Ms Follett made. As we know, progress has been made to achieve that end for the ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Consultative Council, who recommended to the previous Government that that is where they would like it to be. I understand that expressions of interest for designs have been sought by the Federal Government for both the Gallery of Aboriginal Australia and the cultural complex. We agree that they do need to blend together, although they will be separate facilities, and we will be very keen to see what comes out of that.


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