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Wednesday, 20 March 1985
Page: 485

Senator MACKLIN —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Environment. It concerns a meeting on 19 June last year between Mr Cohen, the Federal Minister for the Environment, and his Queensland counterpart, Mr Tenni, concerning the proposed road from Cape Tribulation to Bloomfield. By making an offer to provide Mr Tenni with the names of journalists who might be interested in investigating the drug issue, as he did in the record of that meeting, is Mr Cohen saying that there is no difference between the Commonwealth's position and that of the Queensland Government? For example, does the Minister believe that there is a white slave trade and girls for drug racket operating out of the tropical rainforest area or does the Minister believe that Mr Tenni has perhaps been to too many performances of Pirates of Penzance playing to packed houses in Queensland or read too many Mills and Boon novels?

Senator RYAN —The Minister for Arts, Heritage and Environment, Mr Cohen, has stated the Government's view on the proposed road from Cape Tribulation to Bloomfield clearly and consistently. The Government believes that the road should not have been built. However, the responsibility for the road lies both legally and constitutionally with the Queensland Government and the Douglas Shire Council. The Prime Minister has made it clear that the Commonwealth Government will not act unilaterally when dealing with a sovereign State.

With regard to Mr Tenni's specific allegations of white slave trade and girls for drug racket operations in the Cape Tribulation area, Mr Cohen has already stated that the drug episode during his meeting was like sitting through a James Bond movie. Mr Cohen made it clear at his meeting with Mr Tenni on 19 June that he still wanted to explore ways of saving rainforests throughout Australia, particularly those in Queensland. Mr Cohen believes that such bodies as the working party on rainforests that he established last year, which includes representatives from the Queensland Government, conservation groups and wood industry employers and employees, will enable a solution to be found to this problem.

Senator Macklin would be aware that the text of the record of the meeting on 19 June last year between Mr Cohen and the Queensland Minister for Environment, Mr Tenni is now on public record following freedom of information requests. If Senator Macklin really wants another copy of that text, I am sure that Mr Cohen's office will be able to satisfy him.