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Friday, 3 April 1987
Page: 1834

Senator GARETH EVANS (Minister for Resources and Energy)(11.44) —I take the point about reasonable grounds for believing as being, as a practical matter, an entirely appropriate criterion that should be satisfied. If this Bill were being drafted from the beginning one might be tempted to put something in there to spell it out absolutely beyond doubt. I would strongly argue, nonetheless, that in the absence of those specific words they are to be regarded as implicitly there and would be so construed as being there by any court that was ever called upon to adjudicate this matter. Remember that the entry on to land that may be part of the qualifying area can be done only for the purposes of exercising powers under the Commission. Unless someone reasonably believed that such an area qualified as a potential forestry resource for the purpose of this legislation, wearing my lawyer's hat, I cannot see any grounds on which such an entry could be sustained. One would have to have that element of reasonable belief.

Equally, as to the second amendment, it may well be thought that there is some appropriateness about prior notification before barging in on any such area of land, and I am sure this is a practical matter that will occur. The difficulty about the way this amendment is drafted at the moment is that it requires not only prior notification but also consent. Where that consent is refused one would be unable to perform properly the functions of the Commission as are here set out. There is nothing especially reasonable about the drafting of the second amendment. It goes much too far.

There are some things which one can reasonably accept, and I have indicated them. I have no objection in principle to amendment (3), and the Government would have no objection in principle to the first part of amendment (4). We would argue that they are implicit requirements anyway. I repeat what I said earlier, that if we were to make any amendment at all now, which is not necessary, that would have the result of delaying the implementation and operation of the Bill. From the Government's point of view, if not the point of view of the Tasmanian senators opposite, that is not something that we want to do. I hope that will be regarded as a reasoned response, to which I do not need to add later, although two honourable senators opposite are leaping to their feet.