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Now to the story...

Ruddock denies withholding NT land council funds

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on 28 Feb 2003

Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs Philip Ruddock has denied he is
withholding almost $70 million in royalties from Northern Territory land

The councils says Mr Ruddock is holding the money in the Aboriginal
benefits account until they agree to endorse proposed Commonwealth
amendments to the Territory's Land Rights Act.

Mr Ruddock maintains the land councils must demonstrate they are
addressing issues identified in a performance audit, including how they
manage outcomes, outputs and cost effectiveness.

Mr Ruddock says he will release the money when he is confident it will be
appropriately administered.

"I am not trying to blackmail them or anything of that nature, I would
like to think that good will in relation to dealing with issues to them
would be reciprocated by goodwill and talking about land rights reform,"
he said.

"They're talking to the Northern Territory Government.

"I hope that in their discussions, they're addressing the full range of
issues that were outlined in my discussion paper."




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