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ATSIC became 'too strong', Clark says

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on 15 March 2005

The head of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) remains indignant over the Government's decision to abolish the organisation.

Legislation surrounding ATSIC is proceeding through Parliament this week and will most likely see ATSIC abolished as soon as the bill becomes law.

Chairperson Geoff Clark says the Government is getting rid of ATSIC because the organisation became too strong and powerful.

"They're saying we need better communications with state and federal governments, we attempted to have MoU's [Memorandums of Understanding]and do all those," he said.

"We developed the policies. You read what their new policies are, or so called, they reflect 99 per cent of what we contributed to the debate.

"So really there's no solutions, it wasn't broken, didn't need to be fixed, that's the con."

Meanwhile, Democrats Leader Lyn Allison has predicted Labor will drop its amendments to legislation that abolishes ATSIC.

Under the proposed changes, ATSIC's regional councils will operate until December, six months later than the Government had planned.

The Government is expected to reject Labor's amendments when the Bill is considered in the House of Representatives.

Senator Allison thinks the issue will be resolved soon.

"The minister has said it is not acceptable, even though the regional councils still have work to do, I think she admits that," she said.

"My guess is that Labor will fold, they won't insist on that amendment and so the bill will go through pretty much as it was put forward."

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