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Wednesday, 18 March 1987
Page: 1071


Mr COHEN (Minister for Arts, Heritage and Environment)(6.02) —I must say that I was disappointed to notice that those who have been making the most noise about this issue, with the exception of the honourable member for Braddon (Mr Miles) who has remained in the chamber, have disappeared from the chamber. We had a speech by the honour- able member for Lyons (Mr Burr) who asked a lot of questions and then walked out of the chamber without wanting to find out the answers. This applies similarly to the shadow spokesman, the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Connolly). Let me answer the last question asked by the honourable member for Braddon about the inquiry and who will be on it. The Prime Minister (Mr Hawke), the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Kerin) and I have had numerous discussions with industry and with the unions. We have assured them that they will be consulted and that we will not set up a committee that will come up with the findings that we would want as that would be pointless. We know that if we came up with a committee of inquiry that was obviously biased it would not be accepted and it would not have any validity. So, I assure the honourable member that there will be no attempt on our part to doctor the inquiry.

I just want to answer some of the questions asked by the honourable member for Bradfield. He made a comment in his speech in the second reading debate and he made it again today when he was supposed to be talking about the amendments. He accused me of going around and saying in late 1983, when the question of the Daintree debate came up, that this was not a matter for the Commonwealth but it was a matter of States' rights. I said nothing of the sort. I know that this matter has nothing to do with the amendments, but the honourable member for Bradfield raised it in this debate. I said at the time that the building of the road from Cape Tribulation to Bloomfield was an action by the Douglas Shire Council and endorsed by the Queensland Government and not an action taken by the Australian Government. I said at the time-we should remember that we are talking about 2 1/2 to three years ago-that it was not nominated on the World Heritage List, nor was there any documented evidence at that stage as to its world heritage value.

That was a long time ago. The situation is quite different today. I make the point that I said at the time those facts were not in existence then and that the way to go was through co-operation and not confrontation. By the way, it is still my philosophy with regard to the Lemonthyme and Southern forests. We have tried all the way and the Minister for Primary Industry has shown the patience of Job. Good Lord! I do not know any man who has done more to get co-operation. He is probably one of the most reasonable men ever to grace the treasury bench and he has tried desperately to get co-operation with Mr Gray and Mr Groom. Look at me-the mild mannered Minister for Arts, Heritage and Environment. We could not get two more reasonable people if we tried. To take up some of the points about why these amendments were made and why--


Mr Cadman —The Premier would go close to reasonableness.


Mr Kerin —If you can stop him frothing.


Mr COHEN —I would hate to interrupt anyone--


Mr Porter —Oh come on, for God's sake!


Mr COHEN —Does the honourable member want to interrupt too?


Mr Porter —No, I want you to get back to the Bill.


Mr COHEN —I am trying to talk but people like the honourable member opposite are rabbiting on in their usual style.


The CHAIRMAN —Order! The Minister will be heard in silence.


Mr COHEN —If honourable members opposite would just let me speak instead of rabbiting on all the time we could get on with the debate. The honourable member for Lyons came into the chamber--


Mr Porter —We can't believe a thing you say. That's the problem. Mild mannered, and then you go off your head.


The CHAIRMAN —Order! The honourable member for Barker will cease interjecting.


Mr COHEN —Mr Chairman, I think he has been on the apple juice. The honourable member for Lyons came into the chamber and accused the Government of cynicism and the honourable member for Braddon said the same thing. He said that these boundaries were sudden changes of heart because we realised the damage that could be done. Let me point out that these amendments to change some of the boundaries are simply a result of the Government finally getting information from the companies sufficient to identify accurately some of the current operations. As I understand it, the State put pressure on the companies not to assist the Commonwealth. The companies are now seeing the wisdom of assisting the Commonwealth in getting a compromise. Areas north of Farmhouse Creek, which are currently being logged, were excluded from Schedule 2 of the Bill when it was introduced. Australian Newsprint Mills would not advise the Government, until last week, exactly where it is logging. Having now got this information we are making sure that current logging, including veneer logs, can continue. That is the point of the amendments. It is not that we were not given the information accurately before.

Amendments agreed to.

Bill, as amended, agreed to.

Bill reported with amendments; report-by leave-adopted.