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Between a rock and a hard place!

Proving yet again that he is indeed the right man for the job, John Herron has released a plan that shows he is not only on top of his post as Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, but also has a firm grasp of the real issues surrounding his sensitive portfolio.

Ignoring the extraordinary call from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Commission for his immediate removal as Minister, Mr Herron released details from the proposed plan --- drawn up by his department --- which will see Ayers Rock turned into Australia's answer to Mount Rushmore in time for the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

In a press statement released earlier Mr Herron said he did not expect much opposition to the proposed scheme from Aboriginal leaders, or for that matter from the Aboriginal community at large. "It is quite obvious," said Mr Herron, "that the Aboriginal people of Australia have been holding god-fearing people of this country to ransom over the Wik issue. Their agreement to this plan will be seen as a gesture of good faith to all those white Australians, and pastoralists who have had their backyards threatened by bogus Aboriginal land claims."

Under the proposed plan the faces of four people who have made significant contributions to Australian cultural and political life will be carved into the side of Ayers Rock. Exactly who those four prominent Australians will be is not finalised. It is rumoured that the Government has enlisted the help of some prominent people to draw up a shortlist of names.

Members of the public are invited to email or fax suggestions to any MP.

John Herron went on to say that he thought this would be a boon to the tourist industry. "Asians are no longer coming to Australia in significant numbers. This will help increase Australia's appeal to the American market, and when completed in time for the 2000 Olympics will receive world-wide media coverage."

When asked if he thought there would be a problem with what could be seen as a "desecration of a sacred site", Mr Herron replied that he did not think Ayers Rock had any religious significance at all. "People have been traipsing up that rock for years and no one has complained," he said. "You don't see people doing that sort of thing on a church altar."

Just before leaving on another jet-setting jaunt around the country Mr Herron suggested that Australians were getting sick of the native title issue.