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Thursday, 30 April 1987
Page: 2053

Senator DURACK(10.59) —I thank the Minister for Resources and Energy (Senator Gareth Evans) for that answer. It is a very helpful answer as far as it goes. My attention has been focused on a passage in the second reading speech by Senator Ryan. In part, it states:

The Government recognises that the proposed treatment of existing interest in the conservation zone may alter the rights of companies with such interests. However I give an assurance, on behalf of the Government, that this is not to be taken as a precedent for the treatment of existing mining rights on Commonwealth land generally.

I took that statement about the conservation zone not to be referring to the rights in stages 1 and 2 or, indeed, in the area falling outside the conservation zone in stage 3, where the rights are totally valueless as a result of this legislation.

The Government is saying that they cannot proceed and that no compensation will be paid. The Minister, in her second reading speech, does not seem to be worried about what precedent this will create for this Government's treatment of existing mining rights generally in Australia, which will be nothing short of horrific. However, I have already said elsewhere and earlier in this debate what I wanted to say about that. I take it from the Minister's statement that the Government recognises that the treatment of existing interests in the conservation zone alters those rights to the same extent as the new regime will do it. Is that what the Minister is talking about, or is there something more sinister about it?