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Tuesday, 13 May 1997
Page: 3252

Senator BROWN(5.40 p.m.) —Senator Harradine wants a swift passage of this legislation. It is the first time I have heard it. This legislation has been hanging back for months. As Senator Lees said earlier, it is quite surprising that it has taken so long to get here.

Senator Harradine says that there would not be a red cent as far as I was concerned. There would be a whole different environmental set-up in this country if I were in the position to make this happen. For example, instead of sitting on the side, as Senator Harradine has done, we would have protection of our wild forests. We would not have a woodchip industry marauding through those forests, shedding jobs as it goes, particularly in Tasmania, where it includes the destruction of world heritage forests.

We also would be looking at alternatives, which include proper greenhouse gas controls and a carbon levy, as is the case in many other more enlightened countries in the Northern Hemisphere. We would have proper biodiversity protection in this country, we would have proper public transport, with the emphasis going away from the polluting transport systems we have got at the moment, and a whole range of other things that Senator Harradine has, if you ask me, been remiss in promoting in this place in his 21 years here.

In fact, on issue after issue, from the Franklin River through to the great issues of the forests and Wesley Vale in Tasmania, I cannot remember Senator Harradine taking any outspoken point of view in favour of the environment. If Senator Harradine equates money with the environment, he has got it wrong. Sure, it helps. This is a repair package for damage done in the past by the failure of politicians like, I submit, Senator Harradine to stand up when they had the opportunity years ago to protect the environment as the damage expanded and increased, even while platitudes were being spoken about the environment.

Of course, that is the case at the moment. Here we have Senator Harradine backing this minister, putting forward his stamp of approval on this minister and the Minister for Primary Industries and Energy. They, as I have said earlier, take pivotal responsibility for the record rate of destruction of forests and wildlife going on in this country at the moment—as opposed to putting it across to a panel of environmental experts. So much for Senator Harradine's commitment or, might I say, his knowledge about proper mechanisms for looking after the environmental interests of Australia.

   Question put:

   That the request for amendment and amendments (Senator Brown's ) be agreed to.