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Monday, 4 May 1987
Page: 2218

Senator NEWMAN —My question is also directed to Senator Gareth Evans, in his capacity as Minister for Resources and Energy, and I hope that he knows the answer to this one. Will the Minister confirm that last month in Hobart, after a visit to the mines on the west coast of Tasmania, he told journalists that there may yet be further areas of Tasmania to be locked up? How much more restriction is this Labor Government intending to place on the mining industry? What is the extent of this further threat to the industry at a time when the balance of payments is wholly unacceptable? What investment does he expect to be made by an industry that is facing threats such as he expressed in Hobart?

Senator GARETH EVANS —I did not say anything of the kind. Senator Newman should not believe everything that she reads in the newspapers.

Senator NEWMAN —Mr President, I wish to ask a supplementary question. Does the Minister deny that on 10 April, on Australian Broadcasting Corporation news, he said that a very significant part of Tasmania is properly subject to conservation restriction of one kind or another, and that there may be a case for extending some of those restrictions in some parts of the State?

Senator GARETH EVANS —I cannot remember what I said.

Opposition senators interjecting-

Senator GARETH EVANS —All these matters depend on context. As I recall, that particular context related to the mining industry and the regulations that exist, largely as a part of Tasmanian law, in relation to large areas of the west coast. There is the continuing question of whether those State regulations are appropriate, as has been thought in the past, or whether some extensions are necessary. I certainly did not say that there was a case for further extending restrictions, and I certainly did not say that as it affected the mining industry. I indicated, in the context of the continuing debate about Lemonthyme and the Southern Forest, the strong desire that none of the activities involved there should in any way impinge on or inhibit mining exploration activity in those areas. I am anxious that the mining industry should continue to develop in the whole of the west coast area, as seems likely with the new round of current exploration and development activity. It is particularly necessary as we face the longer term future of the Mount Lyell closure which must come about sooner or later, although thankfully its demise has been further delayed. All of these things are complex issues. I certainly would have made very clear in any interview the complex balance of factors that are involved. If Senator Newman chooses to cheapen and trivialise this sort of debate for some perceived political advantage, that is her view of the world. It is not mine. These are complex issues. They demand a more sophisticated approach than Senator Newman has shown herself capable of in this chamber.