Page 1420 - Week 05 - Tuesday, 6 May 2008

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(g) to monitor and report on the accessibility … ;

(h) when asked by the Minister, to give the Minister information or advice … ;

(i) when asked by a government agency or another person … to recommend any reasonable action … ;

(j) any other function given to ATSIEB by the Minister;

(k) any other function given to ATSIEB under this Act or another territory law.

So there is an extraordinary amount of work that will be covered under this $200,000 budget. If the minister is fair dinkum about this and is absolutely serious about this being effective, I would be interested in his response when he closes the debate as to how he sees that $200,000 working.

It could be as little as one senior officer and a part timer; it might be a couple of middle ranking officers or a middle ranking officer and a couple of assistants. But if they are seriously going to do all that work—advertise, involve the community, run forums and actually report to the minister or, when the minister makes a direction, actually have the capacity to carry out the research that is required—it will be very, very hard, I suspect, for the secretariat that supports the elected body to carry out the functions as listed.

This Assembly has a good reputation and has a good reputation on Indigenous issues. As we were all reminded earlier this year when the sorry day was held in the federal parliament, this place had done it 10 years beforehand under a Kate Carnell Liberal government. I just cannot help but get the sense that things have languished over the last seven years.

The minister might outline quite clearly how he sees the money being spent and how that long list of things that should be done and need to be done are done. Will they be done by the support body or will they be done back in the departments? There is the question. Is the $200,000 the only money that this body will have access to? For instance, if you do a significant consultancy, $200,000 is simply a drop in the bucket. Maybe the answer from the Chief Minister will be “wait and see at 3 o’clock this afternoon”. But if he could detail how he sees it working, it may allay some of the fears I have and some of the fears that I know exist in the community.

There is then the whole issue of whether this is just a talkfest. I have some concerns about issues that the government is currently handling in relation to Aboriginal issues in the territory as we speak, in particular Billabong, Mr Speaker, which is not far from your residence. Billabong has a three-month licence over its property. That is all they have. It should have expired at the end of March but it has been extended, I believe, to the end of June while consultation goes on with the government. Why is it that an organisation, an independent Indigenous organisation, from letters I have seen from the government and from auditors, that is having tremendous results in helping lift Indigenous people from where they are to where they should be, is living on three-month licences over a property where, I understand, they have put something like $1 million worth of infrastructure?

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