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Tuesday, 25 November 1986
Page: 2662

Senator SANDERS —I ask the Minister representing the Attorney-General: Is it a fact that the Commonwealth could have ensured the consideration of the entire stage 2 of Kakadu National Park by proclaiming the area under the World Heritage Properties Conservation Act, therefore bringing the area under the protection of section 10 of that Act? Is it also a fact that section 10 (e) of that Act prohibits exploratory drilling in a proclaimed area and therefore would override the order of the Federal Court of Australia? Finally, did the Government purposely fail to proclaim Kakadu stage 2 to give the mining companies the opportunity to block the listing while the Government appeared to back the conservation movement?

Senator GARETH EVANS —As usual in reply to Senator Sanders questions I have to tell him that the world is not quite as simple as the one he perceives. It is not appropriate for me to embark on some dissertation, even if the Standing Orders were to allow it, on the legal principles that govern this matter. I simply say that on the advice available to the Government, as I am aware of it, the course chosen by the Government and pursued by it to date has been the only realistic one available. To the extent that difficulties have arisen as a result of interlocutory injunctions being obtained, they will be resolved in the way I indicated earlier in Question Time. There is no question but that the Government will honour the commitment we have made to ensure that no mining activity takes place in Kakadu stages 1 and 2. There are a variety of ways in which we can achieve that objective. There are a variety of legal and statutory weapons available to the Government to pursue that result. We will not be rushed or pressured into any course by the hairy advocacy of Senator Sanders.