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Clark wins ATSIC suspension appeal

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on 27 August 2004


Aboriginal leader Geoff Clark has won an appeal against his suspension as chairman of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC).

Former Indigenous affairs minister Philip Ruddock suspended Mr Clark as ATSIC leader last year.

The organisation was disbanded earlier this year.

Senator Amanda Vanstone, who took over from Mr Ruddock, upheld the suspension.

She believed Mr Clark's involvement in a pub brawl, and subsequent conviction, constituted misbehaviour under the ATSIC Act.

But in the Federal Court, Justice Gray ruled the Minister had applied a broader use of the term "misbehaviour" than the offence referred to under the Act.

Outside court, Mr Clark says the verdict is a win for all Aborigines.

"This has been a great disappointment to Indigenous people but we've had to deal with this nonsense over the last 12 months," he said.

Mr Clark is vowing to revive ATSIC.

"I'm the chairman of ATSIC. You better believe it," he said.

"At this stage they don't have many resources but that's something I want to talk to the relevant authorities [about]."

Ms Vanstone says she is disappointed by the ruling.

She says Mr Clark has been reinstated to the position of chairman because Labor is yet to support the Government's bill to abolish ATSIC.


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