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The PM has backed Geoff Clark's suspension

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on 14 August 2003


Prime Minister John Howard has backed moves to suspend the chairman of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, Geoff Clark.

Mr Clark is seeking legal advice after Indigenous Affairs Minister Philip Ruddock ordered him to stand aside yesterday.

Mr Clark was convicted in March for obstructing police and behaving in a riotous manner after a pub brawl in a hotel in Victoria.

Mr Ruddock has now decided to suspend him, a move supported by Mr Howard.

"It's the right thing in the circumstances, it is being done in accordance with the law and Mr Ruddock has my total support in what he has done," Mr Howard said.

The Federal Opposition says it does not seem unreasonable or excessive.

ATSIC commissioner for North Queensland Lionel Quartermaine, says the decision will generate mixed feelings among Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders.

"There will those who didn't like Clarky, will be saying it's about time and there will those who support Clarky saying the opposite, so it depends on which side you're on," he said.

Mr Ruddock says once the appeal is decided, he will consider whether to sack Mr Clark.


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