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Monday, 19 June 2000
Page: 15176

Senator HILL (Minister for the Environment and Heritage) (9:31 PM) —I think there are 101 amendments from the Australian Democrats and the ALP and I am expecting them all to be passed, with or without Senator Brown's support. So, whilst his words are always welcome in this place, in terms of the outcome of this legislation Senator Brown's vote is totally irrelevant.

Senator Brown's contribution made no sense. He suggests some ill intent on the part of the government in transferring this land to a trust with specific responsibilities to rehabilitate it and transfer it for long-term conservation. Yet, if the government had ill intent, it need not transfer the land to the trust at all; it could deal with this land in any way it so wishes. I would have thought that, to most objective observers, the mere fact that the government is transferring it to a trust and doing so through a legislative process would amply demonstrate the government's good faith in this particular instance. It is not its intention to deride the fact that there are disputes on detail, and the Senate committee process is the mechanism through which those disputes are to be resolved.

But I would have thought that the government's purpose in this, in terms of its objectives, would be beyond any objective argument. I therefore interpret Senator Brown's piece of theatre as just that: to again pander to a remnant constituency that is left after most genuine conservationists have moved on to the task of genuinely looking to improve Australia's environmental outlook through constructive and positive works—whether they be in rehabilitating and conserving vitally important land such as this on Sydney Harbour, or in on-reserve or off-reserve works across Australia in rehabilitation in removing weeds and ferals and all the inhibiting factors to our passing on our natural assets to future generations in the condition that we would wish.

To come in here and offer a few gratuitous slaps against the government might please Senator Brown; he might think that it does him good with what remains of a small constituency. But it really does not constructively advance this debate at all.