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Govt accused of gagging new Indigenous council

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on 8 December 2004

The Federal Opposition has accused the Government of placing a gag order on the members of its new National Indigenous Council.

The 14-member council, which was established after the abolition of ATSIC, will have its first meeting in Canberra today.

Opposition spokesman on Indigenous affairs and reconciliation, Kim Carr, says the Government has forced members of the new body to sign a confidentiality agreement.

Senator Carr says the Government will only allow the chair of the group, Perth Magistrate Sue Gordon, to speak publicly.

He says the Government's trying to control what information is released.

"This is the group that the Government said would be the principle source of advice but the public won't be able to find out what their views are," Senator Carr said.

"It contradicts clearly what the Government has been saying about these pre-eminent Australians being able to speak for themselves.

"This is supposed to be the preeminent source of advice.

"Surely we ought to know what they're advising the Government on - the public ought to know what their views are."

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