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Wednesday, 4 May 1994
Page: 201

Senator CALVERT —My question is directed to the Minister for the Environment, Sport and Territories. Can the minister deny that he intends to ignore representations from both Tasmanian minister, John Cleary, and his Labor counterpart, Judy Jackson, and slash funding for the state's world heritage areas by as much as 50 per cent? Is the minister concerned that any cutbacks in federal funding are likely to lead to the loss of up to 60 jobs? Does the minister consider that his government has obligations under the World Heritage Properties Conservation Act and the world heritage management plan to provide adequate funding to protect such areas? Does the minister consider Tasmania's world heritage areas worthy of government support? If so, on what basis can he justify any funding cutbacks that will place them at risk?

Senator FAULKNER —This question has emanated from a front page article in the Hobart Mercury newspaper of a week or so ago which contained an alleged indication of what would appear in the budget in relation to world heritage area management nationwide. I do not believe that it is appropriate to dignify that sort of pre-budget beat-up in the Senate today, and I will not be dignifying it.

  But I do indicate this to Senator Calvert: I intend to have a very hands-on approach to world heritage area management in my capacity as Minister for the Environment, Sport and Territories. I will be taking a very close interest in those issues. I will not be indicating to Senator Calvert today what is contained in the federal budget. I have indicated in person to Minister Cleary in Tasmania, and I have indicated to Premier Groom in Tasmania, that as soon as the budget is brought down next Tuesday I will be ensuring that the world heritage ministerial council meets in Tasmania; in fact, the proposed date is 19 May.

  We will be dealing with a range of issues pertaining to the management of the Tasmanian wilderness world heritage area. I think that is a responsible and appropriate course of action. I can confirm with Senator Calvert that I will be taking a close interest in these areas—not only in relation to Tasmania, but also in the other world heritage properties where it is appropriate for the federal government to take a role. I consider this a very high priority for me as the new minister for the environment.

Senator Gareth Evans —Mr President, I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.