Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 25 August 1994
Page: 344


Senator IAN MACDONALD (11.36 a.m.) —I move:

Clause 3, page 2, at the end of the clause add the following word and paragraph:

"and (c) when making national environment protection measures the Council seeks as far as practicable to pursue effective harmonisation rather than uniformity in achieving the outcomes described in paragraphs (a) and (b).".

I understand from the attitude the Greens and the Democrats have taken to this bill that they will be opposing our amendment. This amendment adds paragraph (c) to clause 3, the objects of the bill. Paragraph (a) states that the object is to ensure, by means of the establishment and operation of the council, that `people enjoy the benefit of equivalent protection from air, water or soil pollution and from noise, wherever they live in Australia'. Paragraph (b) states that the object is to ensure that `decisions of the business community are not distorted, and markets are not fragmented, by variations between participating jurisdictions in relation to the adoption or implementation of major environment protection measures'.

  We want to add paragraph (c), which states that the object is to ensure that `when making national environment protection measures the Council seeks as far as practicable to pursue effective harmonisation rather than uniformity in achieving the outcomes described in paragraphs (a) and (b)'. As I said in the second reading debate, the reason for that is that it would not be sensible or practical to require identical environmental protection measures in all parts of the country because it is simply not possible. I understand that the wording of our amendment was prepared by the shadow minister, Mr Ian McLachlan. I am informed by him that the wording is taken from a speech made by a federal environment minister. I think it was Mrs Kelly. I might stand corrected; it may well have been Senator Faulkner.


Senator Faulkner —It wasn't me.


Senator IAN MACDONALD —It must have been Mrs Kelly. She said those words. So we felt quite confident, in including in the amendment words Mrs Kelly said quite publicly that she was seeking to achieve in this bill and in the agreements reached, that that would guarantee the support of the government. We thought the government would accept this and include it without debate. So I am surprised to have it indicated to me that the Labor Party is not going to support it.

  I am even more surprised when I understand that Senator Faulkner wrote to at least the Western Australian environment minister, and this was referred to by Senator Crane in his contribution last night. There is a letter from Senator Faulkner to the Western Australian environment minister. I understand that Senator Faulkner circulated this letter, so we are not breaching any confidences. Senator Faulkner said that it would not be sensible or practical to require identical environment protection measures in all parts of the country. We agree with Senator Faulkner. That is why we thought it would assist the bill. It would assist the intention of all parties. It would certainly assist the intention of Senator Faulkner if what he said in letters to premiers was included as an object of the bill. It was for that reason that we have moved this amendment.

  I would be interested to hear from Senator Faulkner why the government is opposing an object which Mrs Kelly has spoken of in exactly those words, and which Senator Faulkner has written to the premiers in much the same words. It would be interesting to hear from Senator Faulkner why he would not agree to that. Perhaps I have it wrong. Perhaps the government is going to agree with it and I have the wrong message.