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Wednesday, 29 June 1994
Page: 2307

Senator CAMPBELL (3.21 p.m.) —There are two points at issue here. The first is the misrepresentation of the coalition's views on the environment which would have people believe—and it could only come from the minds of people such as Senator Burns and Senator Coulter—that we would develop at all costs. We have a proud record in government and in opposition of having very sound environmental policies that value a federal structure, keep faith with local input into approvals processes, keep faith with state government approvals processes, and do not allow a federal government to tread roughshod over local people's wishes. That is crucial in the environment, and the coalition does have a very good record in that area. The second point that is to be made—

Senator Coulter —You have no responsibility for your heritage.

Senator CAMPBELL —Senator Coulter is not the only person in Australia who cares about the environment. Senator Coulter is not the only person in this parliament who cares about the environment; a lot of senators over here care more about it than he does. We understand that if we are to look after the environment we have to have a good economy, and we cannot have a good economy if we say no to every single development around the whole coast of Australia.

  The problem we have in Australia at the moment is that the federal government, under the Aboriginal Heritage Protection Act and new environmental procedures, can effectively use its powers to stop any development anywhere in Australia at any time. It has that power to stop development at any time. Mr Tickner can put out orders under the Aboriginal Heritage Protection Act and Minister Faulkner can use environmental powers to stop any development proposal anywhere in Australia at any time. That power has irrevocably shifted to Canberra while this government stays in power.

  The coalition will shift that power out of Canberra and ensure that development approvals processes keep faith with local government and state government approvals processes. When local people lose control of land use management, we will not get good environmental decisions and we will not get good development decisions.

Senator Faulkner —That is really terrific.

Senator CAMPBELL —Senator Faulkner thinks that he knows best; so does Senator Coulter. Senator Coulter does not think anyone else anywhere around Australia cares for the environment or cares for a sensible balance between the environment and development. When we shift all decision making here to Canberra and believe that all environmental wisdom resides here in Canberra, then Australia is in a terrible position. That is the issue at stake. There is no doubt that the ministers have powers. Whether we would call those powers legitimate or illegitimate is a question for debate which I will not enter into today.

  The reality of Australia's situation as we talk today is that the federal government now has the power to stop development anywhere in Australia at any time it so chooses. If people want to develop anything in Australia these days—if they want to build a dunny in the backyard—they should not bother going to their local government or state government for approval; they might as well come straight to Senator Faulkner, who is a wise man in these things. He can judge the crucial issues between development and environmental protection on their merits here in Canberra. He and Mr Tickner will have to judge thousands of development approvals. They are the wise men; they will judge all developments because this is where the power now resides in Australia.