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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 7 Hansard (2 July) . . Page.. 2135 ..


MR BERRY: My question is to the Minister for Health and Community Care. Has the Minister formally apologised to the Aboriginal community for mistakenly suggesting that the major stumbling block to the ACT Hospice remaining on Acton Peninsula was the cultural attitude of indigenous people to death? What form did that apology to the Aboriginal community, if any, take, and when did you make it?

MR MOORE: Thank you, Mr Berry, for the question. Amongst comments on a whole series of things, I made a comment on ABC radio to Cathy Van Extel about the Hospice. The information I had about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Institute had come from Senator Macdonald's office. When I made that comment, I had a telephone call to my office, certainly within the first 24 hours, and I spoke personally to Mr Rus Taylor of the institute. He said to me that that was not the view of the institute. I do not know whether the view of the institute had changed or not, nor did I ask.

I said to Mr Taylor, "I apologise for doing that, because I certainly would not have done that deliberately". Mr Taylor then said to me that he was going to put out a press release correcting the position so that there would be no misunderstanding about the position of the institute. I said, "That seems perfectly reasonable to me. I would understand that". The only place I made that comment was on ABC radio on that particular program. I took care not to mention it elsewhere. In fact, I phoned the Canberra Times reporter and said, "I have been approached by the institute and they have a different view. If you picked that up from the radio, I would appreciate you not putting it into your article". I heard Mr Taylor being interviewed on that same ABC show yesterday morning or the morning before, following the media release. He made his comment, so I thought it appropriate that I apologise, and I did so at the time. That was the reason for the apology.

Yesterday Mr Berry sought to ask a very similar question. I have been through the draft Hansard, and the question yesterday accused me of racism, racial vilification and so on. That question was ruled out of order. Mr Berry has not yet apologised for accusing me of racism or racial vilification. I must say I am very disappointed at that. I have been prepared to apologise for having misled - - -

Mr Berry: It took you two days.

MR MOORE: Not after two days. I spoke to Mr Rus Taylor the moment it was drawn to my attention. The moment it was drawn to my attention I apologised rather than going back into the media with it, where I felt it may have caused some problems. I knew Mr Taylor was putting out a media release and was happy for that to occur, and at that point I apologised. I was prepared to apologise, Mr Berry. I wonder whether you are big enough to do the same.

MR BERRY: Contrition in retrospect, I call that.

MR SPEAKER: Do you have an apology or do you have a supplementary question?

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