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Friday, 3 April 1987
Page: 1837

Senator GARETH EVANS (Minister for Resources and Energy)(12.07) —Regarding Senator Walters question, the only obligation is to take reasonable steps and one would have thought that there is a minimum of things that it is reasonable for property owners to do.

Senator Walters —Such as?

Senator GARETH EVANS —Such as putting a fence around the property with a sign saying `Keep out'. I do not think that armed guards are needed around the perimeters. I do not want to engage in speculation as to a variety of circumstances. Only reasonable steps need to be taken to avoid the possibility of someone saying: `I may be the owner but it is not me who cut them down. It was Joe Blow down the road', when, in fact, there has been tacit acknowledgment and willingness to accept Joe Blow doing the job. That is the sort of reason that that part of the legislation is there. Again, I do not want to contribute too much speculation to essentially hypothetical cases. As to Senator Watson's contribution, Senator Walsh's reply was made in the context of affairs that have been rather superseded by the course of events.

Senator Archer —What do you mean by that? Not a thing has changed.

Senator GARETH EVANS —What has changed has been the need, in the absence of co-operation unfortunately, to embark upon an inquiry using formal powers to explore these things. But again I do not find it helpful to try to canvass what obviously are matters of controversy between us. I simply make the point that there is no question of a misleading answer in Senator Walsh's response; it was simply a reflection of the Government's position at the time. As to Senator Harradine's remarks, there is no more useful argument that we can have. It is just a difference of view as to what is the proper scope and obligation to identify under the Convention. We could argue about that between ourselves, no doubt, for some time but it would not be profitable to do so. Senator Harradine has put his position on the record and I have put mine.