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Tuesday 11th February 1997

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Issues - The banking system under the spotlight.


The Hindmarsh Bridge affair raised its ugly head again when a Bill allowing the bridge to go ahead was blocked in the Senate last night. The Bill was claimed to be discriminatory by the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and minor parties. The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Senator Heron accused the ALP of creating an expensive mess.

Since 1988 this crazy, sick episode in native title claims has cost the Australian tax payer the equivalent of Au$4 million after the Labor Government blocked the bridge's construction under the Heritage Protection Act.

"We introduced the Bill because we believed that the Australian taxpayer should not have to pay a cent more for this mess, we wanted to bring it to an end," Senator Herron said.

ALP strategists last night said that the outcome of the Bill's passage in the Senate last night could give a strong indication of how any Coalition government legislation on the Wik decision would be treated by the Senate. They said that it could force the Coalition to take a more conciliatory response towards the High Court's Wik decision.

Bridge developer Ms Wendy Chapman said that "the bridge saga has now reached the point of lunacy.

"Common sense has been chucked out the window by the Democrats, Independents and Greens, they should have had the courage to fix the bridge issue instead of pandering to minority agitator groups," she said.

Senator Herron said that the Senate's decision would force the Federal Government to set up another inquiry into the Hindmarsh Island bridge fiasco - costing taxpayers a further Au$1 million.

Independent Member for Oxley Pauline Hanson spoke yesterday about the threats that have been made against her children because of the political stand that she has taken. She said that her children, who attend the West Moreton Anglican Church School in Ipswich, have been threatened with kidnap and assault by anonymous phone callers.

Yesterday Pauline Hanson attended the court hearing at which 17 year old Pacer James Schefe was being tried for swearing. Ms Hanson was well protected by police when she arrived at the court to wait out a protracted trial while the Aboriginal boy's lawyer, Colin Forrest, successfully had a charge of obstructing police struck off because the charge was under a law repealed in 1993 when the Police Act became the Police Services Administration Act.

Ms Hanson eventually fronted court at about 3.30 pm to face an intense barrage of questioning from Forrest, who is being paid by the Aboriginal Legal Service. The questioning turned to the issue of racism with Forrest said, "You don't like it when you are called a racist."

Hanson, "No".

Forrest, "It doesn't come as a shock to you if Aboriginal people call you a racist?"

Hanson: "I don't consider myself a racist."

Mr Forrest asked Hanson to give a yes or no answer to his question.

Hanson, "It is not a "yes" or "no" answer. I have been called a racist by Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. I have also had support from Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people."

During the session the Magistrate Jim Gordon was prompted to say to the defence council, "Let the witness finish her answer Mr Forrest. I am becoming rather annoyed."

The swearing charge against Schefe has been adjourned until May 12th after the lengthy questioning by the defence council of Ms Hanson.

Aboriginal activist Murrandoo Yanner was back in the fray again like a kid in a candy shop calling for the Chairman of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC), Gatjil Djerrkura, to resign because he "sold out to the people" on the Century Zinc mine issue.

Yanner launched his attack just three days before the deadline for negotiations between Century Zinc and Gulf of Carpentaria Aborigines over the future of the Au$1.1 billion mine.

Yanner claimed that Djerruka's former directorship in the Henry Walker group had prejudiced his views in favour of giving the Century Zinc mine the go ahead.


Aboriginal leaders are deeply divided about the manner in which the Wik issue should be handled. This has resulted in a planned boycott of Friday's prime ministerial round table meeting to discuss the Wik issue.

Getting back to Wik, Aboriginal Social Justice Minister Mick Dodson told a meeting that he had grave concerns about the way native title negotiations were proceeding and that he was considering pulling out of the round table because not enough time had been given to consult with the people.

The meeting was announced on Thursday last week after 14 Aboriginal leaders met with Prime Minister John Howard.

Now the ATSIC lawyer, Noel Pearson, is under pressure from Aboriginal factions to pull out of Wednesday's legal meeting.

You say:

Subject: Mrs. Pauline Hanson M.P.

I agree wholeheartedly with your views on the probability of a rent-a -crowd turning up at the trial of the Aboriginal youth for abusing Mrs.Hanson.

It is a pity they cannot face the truth of what she is saying without being racist and abusive .I think Mrs. Hanson is on the right track with what he has to say about the Aboriginal question.

John Hewitt

Subject: Pauline Hanson

If you think Pauline Hanson is such a great person I am surprised that you did not re-organise your priorities and go to Ipswich, to give your one eyed support to her publicity seeking charge.

Jim Matthews

Unlike the priviledged on the dole I have an employed staff base to pay and support. If I spent the day hanging around outside the Ipswich court this would effect my ability to remain productive. I would love to have had the time to participate and support Ms Hanson by being there as I do feel very strongly that the media are totally misrepresenting her to meet the greedy ends of the all-powerful media moguls.



Kerry Stoke's Seven Network has charged that Optus Vision is hugely overvalued and, if proved correct, could cause enormous losses for the other share holders in the company aftera bitter legal wrangle is resolved in the courts.

In the latest round the three non-Seven shareholders (including non other than Kerry Packer) have been obliged to offer Mr Stokes' Seven Network the 98% of Optus Vision that it does not own at prices which drastically undercut their investment in the venture.

Seven said yesterday that it had received offers from its three fellow investors of Au$648.7 million and Au$533.8 million for the 98% stake.

The offers represent a massive discount to the shareholders investment in Optus Vision with Optus Communications paying Au$600 million for just 46.5% and committing more than Au$600 million to the venture in the last three years.

North American phone giant US West (with 46.5%) and Kerry Packer's Publishing and Broadcasting Limited (5%) have also contributed proportionally to Optus Vision's Au$1.3 billion investment in cable infrastructure and development.

Seven subsidiary Tallglen Pty Ltd has 10 days to consider and respond to the offer.

However, Seven will not be able to collect the prize until after the legal dispute is heard in the courts on the 24th February.

The actions arises out of a legal action by Seven against the Optus Vision partners for an alleged violation of the Optus Vision shareholder's agreement.


The Australian cricket team arrived in South Afica at 5.30am Johannesburg time this morning.

The team will play a three test series in what has been billed as the "fight for the world crown".... by Foxtel - who have exclusive rights over the live play of the series.

Personal trivia, from the global office:

Another gorgeous day outside. Warm and sunny with the cockatoos and corellas already feasting at the feed tray.

Today will be largely spent in the big smoke - following up dozens of enquiries following the success of last week's talks to hundreds of business people in Brisbane.

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