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The Hon Peter Garrett AM MP
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts

Indigenous language, culture and broadcasting funding; uranium mining; nuclear waste; Superb parrot; crocodile management planning

Doorstop Interview, Announcement of Indigenous language, culture & broadcasting funding, Top End Aboriginal Bush Broadcasting Association (TEABBA), Darwin
16 July 2009

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GARRETT: Well let me just quickly start by saying that it is absolutely beaut to be in the Top End and a Top End broadcasting as well, and to be making announcements which goes to culture, to language and to broadcasting. And I am extremely pleased that the Government is announcing support of over $29 million for Indigenous culture, for language maintenance and for broadcasting and that we have also recognised one of the calls that Indigenous organisations have had on Government to see whether there is the opportunity for triennial funding and a number of organisations in this announcement, including broadcasting organisations, will be able to benefit from the triennial funding.

This announcement today is about the Rudd Government providing the support that Indigenous communities need to maintain language, to continue their very active broadcasting culture and also to continue cultural activities right around Australia. And it comes on top of the announcement I made yesterday of the Breakthrough initiative which saw us provide support for Indigenous bands to record material to high level broadcast quality so that they can actually build and platform their careers as well. And it comes on top of the support that this Government has announced for aboriginal art centres coming through the budget under not only the NACIS program but additional funding that Minister Macklin and I were able to provide for aboriginal arts centres as well.

We recognise that right around Australia, but especially in the Top End and in remote areas, community radio stations are really important, culture is important and language is important and that is why we are providing this level of support and I am absolutely delighted that I can be here in Darwin this afternoon to announce it.

I'll conclude by simply saying this - as we continue to see the outpouring of creativity, the keen interest that people have in the maintenance of culture, as we continue to see a recognition not only from the communities themselves but Australia-wide of what a critical and significant contribution culture makes and means to Indigenous communities Australia-wide, we're particularly pleased to be able to provide this support. And as I said, to be able to bring through for the first time triennial funding for some of these organisations to provide them with constancy and certainty in the years ahead.

Happy to take any questions.

JOURNALIST: Mr Garrett in light of the approval of the Four Mile uranium mine, what does that mean about other proposals in the Northern Territory, say in central Australia or Kakadu? Does that pave the way for future approvals?

GARRETT: Any proposal that comes before the Government will be considered in the same way that this proposal was - thoroughly, diligently, with a very, very strong focus on maintaining world's best practice in terms of proposals of this kind. I'll continue to make sure that the environmental standards are as high as they need to be and we will take any proposals that come through to us and treat them in that manner.

JOURNALIST: Can I ask you about the Ranger uranium mine? How long will it be before mining actually takes place at this mine? The approval has now been given I understand for further exploration?

GARRETT: Look it is only an exploration approval at Ranger - there is no formal application to mine, that hasn't come to the Government. Until such time as it does that exploration process is underway, it is not subject to the Commonwealth's involvement, it was not deemed to be necessary for it to be a controlled action. So, in the event that there is going to be an application to actually begin or additionally mine there, the situation is as normal.

JOURNALIST: Isn't that the natural next step though? Isn't this what they're aiming to achieve?

GARRETT: Well nothing has reached me. I have no proposals in front of me and until such time as I have a proposal in front of me I don't add any further comment.

JOURNALIST: Minister, what is, what type of information have you got about the future of a low level nuclear waste dump site in Australia? It is, I think it, almost four years since we knew that there should be or has to be one in Australia. What information have you got about it and why is it taking so long?

GARRETT: Well the Government is committed to repealing the Howard legislation and we will make sure that that process of repeal and bringing forward appropriate legislation is done within the first term of this Government. Minister Ferguson is still considering that matter. I understand that there is still some scientific inquiries that have to be concluded. But the commitment that we made and we went to the election with stands.

JOURNALIST: But scientific inquiries wouldn't be what is holding up the legislation being repealed, would it be?

GARRETT: Well until such time as Minister Ferguson has all of the relevant information and material at his desk, until such time as that's concluded, then the next step won't be taken. Now the commitment is there. We made the commitment, it remains and now it is just a case for the processes of consideration to be finalised by Minister Ferguson.

JOURNALIST: Isn't that kind of setting it up though so that as soon as the legislation is repealed a site will be chosen straight away? That doesn't seem to be leaving much room for community consultation?

GARRETT: Look there will be adequate community consultation in this process as we said when we went to the election. That remains the case. Not only will territory and state governments be properly consulted with and adequately consulted with, but so will traditional owners and communities. But at this point in time, as I said, there is still some ongoing work and until that ongoing work is concluded Minister Ferguson hasn't got anything to bring forward until that is finished.

JOURNALIST: Changing topics jus slightly to the Superb parrot, this is a question from somebody else, please bear with me.

GARRETT: I'll be interested in hearing what the question is seeing as you don't know what it is!

JOURNALIST: How are the discussions between your Department and the New South Wales Government going in regards to logging issues and the Superb parrot.,

GARRETT: Look in relation to the Superb parrot and logging that is being undertaken in New South Wales, in the Murray River region and around Deniliquin, those discussions continue. We have always said that we want to see the livelihood of people in that community taken into account as we do appropriate protection of the environment there. My expectation is that those negotiations and discussions will continue. I am encouraging New South Wales to consider some of the matters that have been raised in correspondence between the Commonwealth and New South Wales and I am confident that we will have some substantial discussions that will be concluded satisfactorily pretty soon.

JOURNALIST: What is your deadline for those discussions to...?

GARRETT: Well we haven't set a deadline for it. It is best that the discussions happen thoroughly to enable all of the issues to be properly canvassed. That will happen. Once those discussions have concluded then we will have something additional to say.

JOURNALIST: Continuing on the animal theme, crocodiles, are you going to be seeing any natural crocodile habitats while you are up here?

GARRETT: Look I don't expect to necessarily visit natural crocodile habitats. In relation to the crocodile management plan that is being prepared by the Northern Territory Government that has not reached me yet. I understand that it should get to me sometime by the end of August. When it gets to me by the end of August I will look at what is in the plan and then I will make a decision on those matters that I am responsible for accordingly.

JOURNALIST: Do you have some concerns about the numbers that we have got up here?

GARRETT: Look I am aware that this is a debate that is a constant in the Top End and understandably because your interaction in the natural environment with this species and with other animals is probably a more immediate interaction than we have in southern states. At the same time it is absolutely critical that we consider carefully what decisions we make in relation to matters like this, so I am looking forward to the Northern Territory Government bringing that management plan forward. I expect as I said before that we'll get it by the end of August. Once we have got that management plan then we will be in a position to make decisions.

Thanks everybody.


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