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Thursday, 26 March 1987
Page: 1376


Senator WALTERS(12.12) —The Minister says that the management plan was never approved by the Government. That is a lot of rot. I can only repeat the words of this memorandum:

Export licences will include a condition that: Forest Operations in the Lemonthyme will be in accordance with the Management Plan for the Lemonthyme State Forest 1983.

I do not know how the Minister can say that the Commonwealth never agreed to that in 1983. All I know is that when it was signed by Mr Kerin the Government agreed with it and said that that had to be abided by. Indeed, there has been no suggestion that that has not been abided by. There is no reference-perhaps the Minister can show me-to where it says that regarding the Lemonthyme the Minister has to seek approval. Mole Creek, yes; Lemonthyme, no. The Minister is really just trying to get around the situation. He was talking of the great need for a protection area-let us be right; let us call it a buffer zone-and the great need for this extra inquiry to say whether a buffer zone is needed. Let me read from the proposal for world heritage listing when the Commonwealth put up the south-west, the proposed dam area. Let us see what the Commonwealth said about that area which the Minister now says needs protecting. In confirming the western Tasmanian wilderness parks listing, the Commonwealth said:

It is large enough to survive as a wilderness and to maintain genetic diversity despite influences from surrounding areas and to permit experience of solitude. The nominated region is an outstanding example of one of the few remaining temperate areas which is of sufficient size for the natural process to continue. The geology and climate of the three parks have resulted in a unique environment which contains 83 per cent of Tasmania's wilderness area.

When setting that area aside, the Commonwealth said it did not need a buffer zone; it was large enough to survive as a wilderness and give that experience of solitude. It did not need a buffer zone; it says that very clearly, and the Government agreed with that. Now, because the Government lost 20 per cent in Keating's area in the by-election, it is now saying: `We need some votes. We will forget all that. We will tear up the memorandum of understanding that we signed. We have to get the conservation votes'. So it is out to do a cynical exercise in relation to the Northern Territory and Tasmania. That is all it is about, let us be quite clear. The Government agreed earlier that this area did not need a buffer zone; it agreed in the memorandum of understanding that we could log Lemonthyme and have an export licence without referring back to the Minister. The whole thing is a cynical sham, and it is a disgraceful way to behave in a government.