Page 2779 - Week 09 - Tuesday, 16 August 2005

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Bishop Pat Power began the ride with them. I do not know whether he actually made it, but I believe that he intended to go all the way to Hall, which I think was pretty impressive. I only went as far as the tent embassy because we were running on Aboriginal time, which meant that it was very much time for me to leave to get to meetings here, and could not accompany them all the way to the city, which I had planned to do.

The tent embassy is a very significant point of departure. It was really good that Father Peter Murnane and the Aboriginal person driving the support vehicle were able to go there and meet with the people who are camped there. I think everyone knows that the tent embassy has been there for over 30 years and that the people who are camped there insist that until the issues that they are camping there about are fixed they will stay there.

I want to commend the people on the site, because it is looking incredibly airbrushed at the moment. It is extremely tidy. It is a very comfortable place to visit. One is always offered a cup of tea. I also want to put in a plug in support. It is often said by some for various reasons, depending on where the speaker is standing, that the tent embassy should not be there. Some people see it as a little messy in our overordered parliamentary triangle. Other people insist that, because the campers on the whole are not local people, they have no right to be there.

I believe that the tent embassy has always worked to represent indigenous people from all over Australia. It is a place where Aboriginal people visiting Canberra know they are welcome. Issues that confront Aboriginal people confront them everywhere. So I believe that the Aboriginal embassy has a very important place in the indigenous people’s campaign. They have no reason to feel hopeful about the next two or three years, but I can tell you that they are still working and campaigning. I thank the Stanhope government for supporting the embassy, as far as it is able, because I believe that the people there add significantly to Canberra’s cultural life. I agree that until they have won the gains that they are working for they should stay there because the embassy is in your face and that is where it needs to be.

Business survey

MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (6.10): Mr Speaker, I would like to follow up on a matter that has been the subject of some discussion today, as it was last week; that is, the survey that was commissioned by Australian Business Ltd. The Chief Minister and the Treasurer have tried today to make a great deal of the survey commissioned by Australian Business Ltd. I have a fair regard for the Treasurer’s caution in matters economic in that he normally looks pretty carefully at things. I can only put it down to jet lag or the like that he has walked into something here without doing his homework, because if he had looked at the survey he would not have touched it with a barge pole. I understand that the Chief Minister has had all sorts of jobs he has been carrying out over the last few weeks and it is probably not his forte.

This survey purported to show that the average cost of government taxes and charges per employee in the ACT was $1,630 compared to $2,628 in New South Wales, a difference of $998. The Chief Minister concluded, quite wrongly, that taking on staff was 40 per cent cheaper in the ACT than across the border. If you had just read the press

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