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Tuesday, 16 February 1999
Page: 2836


Mr BRERETON —My question is addressed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, and again concerns the lead-up to the World Heritage Committee meeting next July. Is it not a fact that DFAT has developed a secret strategy that includes targeting key decision makers overseas, developing country-specific lobbying efforts, and exploiting upcoming international candidacies? Just which countries have or will be offered Australia's support for their candidatures or offered any other inducements in exchange for a vote to keep Kakadu off the world heritage in danger list? Why is it proposed that our diplomatic service should be engaged in such shabby deals?

Mr Tuckey interjecting


Mr SPEAKER —Minister for Forestry and Conservation! The Minister for Forestry and Conservation is warned. I am not sure whether members on my right heard the speaker above the hubbub. I have warned the Minister for Forestry and Conservation. I call the Minister for Foreign Affairs.


Mr DOWNER (Foreign Affairs) —This gives me the opportunity to correct the years 1999 and 1998 for the two years I mentioned in my earlier answer. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade operates in Australia's national interest, and it is our national interest that the Jabiluka mine is able to proceed. I said, in answer to an earlier question, that I thought a thousand jobs—from memory—would be created by this project, and I see that I was right. But, over and above that, an estimated $12 billion will be earned from this mine for Australia—$12,000 million.

The honourable member for Kingsford-Smith thinks there is something wrong with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade developing a strategy to ensure that this perfectly legitimate, safe, and properly considered project be kept off the world heritage in danger list. We are absolutely determined to prosecute this case, as I said earlier, in a principled, but determined, way. As we do when we lobby for Australian interests, and as we did during the climate change negotiations, we will promote Australia's interests with a considerable degree of energy and—I very much hope—success. We have nothing to apologise for, nothing to be ashamed of, and there is absolutely nothing unprincipled about promoting Australia's national interest.