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Monday, 9 December 2013
Page: 2016


Mr BUTLER (Port Adelaide) (20:16): I feel obliged to respond to some of the comments from the member for Melbourne about the minister potentially moving this amendment to help us out. I did not hear those remarks when the minister introduced this amendment. They reflect on our party, so I feel the need to respond to them. I assure the House that in no way are we supporting this amendment through any sense of being helped out by the minister and that I do not understand that to be his primary motivation at all.

As I tried to indicate when outlining the history of this decision, this, in our very clear view, was a decision taken on the basis of a technicality by the Federal Court. There was a very detailed, lengthy—exhaustive, I dare say—process of considering the impact on threatened species, particularly in this case the Tasmanian Devil, of this controlled action. Reasonable people might disagree about the outcome of that decision, but there is no question that can be legitimately asked about whether or not the impact on this threatened species was considered in great detail.

The reason we are supporting this amendment is that there were potentially a number of other controlled actions. I do not know how many, and I do not know their circumstances. But, potentially, given the nature of the Federal Court decision, a number of controlled actions in the past which may go back quite some considerable time went through very lengthy, expensive and exhaustive processes of consideration under the EPBC Act and are now fairly well advanced. In good faith the decision of the then minister should now be given that certainty. If we took the view that the decision by the Federal Court was anything more than a technicality and that there was something substantively missing from the process which was undertaken by the department and by the minister, we would not be supporting this amendment. We do not take that view, and that is why we support it.