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Friday, 5 December 1986
Page: 3468


Senator ZAKHAROV(9.31) —I shall be as brief as possible. Speaking as Chairman of the Standing Committee on National Resources, I want to add a little to what Senator Colston said. Not only is the cost likely to be in the order of an estimated $14,000 but also I can see that cost being for a nil return. There are very great practical difficulties for my Committee because the membership is spread from Queensland to Tasmania to Western Australia. I think it is probably impossible to get that Committee, or even a quorum of that Committee, together before 17 February, which is the first day of the next sitting. As with the Senate Standing Committee on Education and the Arts, which Senator Colston chairs, my Committee has been very short staffed. At one stage recently we were operating with one new, inexperienced research officer. We will not have a secretary to the Committee until early February. I think the proposal is totally impractical.

Apart from that, even if a meeting could be arranged I doubt that anything meaningful could be worked out in that time or added to the debate, particularly in the case of this reference which I do not think is even relevant to the National Resources Committee. I do not know whether it has any relevance-or very little-to another committee. Obviously the matter is being pushed in our direction because at present we are looking at the national resources of the Kakadu area. Land rights is only a peripheral issue in that area. Land rights do not apply only to the Northern Territory; they apply to the whole of Australia. I think the proposal is totally impractical and it should not be proceeded with.