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Thursday, 30 June 1994
Page: 2540

Senator CALVERT (10.35 p.m.) —I did not have the opportunity to take note of Senator Faulkner's answer during question time today, but I want to put on the record my disappointment that, as the environment minister, he did not answer the supplementary questions I asked regarding the effects of his plans for Tasmania. When I made the comment that I was a fourth generation Tasmanian, Senator Collins interjected across the chamber, `And it shows.' I presume that in his usual generous manner Senator Collins was paying me a compliment, and I thank him for that. I also thank Senator Faulkner for jogging my memory, because in his reply to my earlier question he said that I had the opportunity to talk to him yesterday in the chamber, but I cannot remember talking to Senator Faulkner in this place during the last two weeks. Nevertheless, I must be wrong.

  In my supplementary question, I asked why Tasmania suffers every time we have a change of environment minister. I would like to put on the record that I remember very well when former Senator Richardson became the minister for the environment. The first thing he did was lock up 20 per cent of Tasmania in World Heritage. He certainly made a name for himself as an environment minister. I do not believe he did it for any sane reason. At that time the Helsham inquiry was set up. Those people who sat on the Helsham inquiry were recommended by the Green movement. I remind the Senate that those in the Green movement recommended the Helsham inquiry and the people who were to sit on that inquiry. The Helsham inquiry recommended locking up 30,000 hectares of Tasmania. Former Senator Richardson, in his wisdom as a new environment minister, ended up locking up 330,000 hectares of Tasmania, and that is where it all started.

  Then, of course, Ros Kelly took over the position of environment minister. One of the first things she did was close down Benders Quarry in the World Heritage area. She did it because it was one of those things where she could get a lot of headlines and make a name for herself—like every new minister does—at the expense of the Tasmanian population. The people who suffered because of that were the fruit growers in southern Tasmania and they still are suffering.

  Then Senator Schacht became the new minister for science. The first thing he did was come down to Tasmania—he had never been there before—to see what the CSIRO was doing. He decided that he was going to make a name for himself by combining the CSIRO with the Australian Institute of Marine Science in Queensland. He certainly made a name for himself because the rest of his colleagues in cabinet realised what a fool he was making of himself, and he backed off.

   Now, in the first few weeks of his new job as the minister for environment, Senator Faulkner has a big breakfast and tells everybody what he is going to do in Tasmania. He is going to lock up the so-called Tarkine area, stop woodchipping by the year 2000 and do all these wonderful things. But the only thing he did not do was talk to his Tasmanian senators and members and, from what I can understand, he did not talk to his cabinet colleagues. He made an absolute fool of himself. Today we have Mrs Silvia Smith from the Labor Party and on behalf of the Labor Party getting a lot of coverage in Tasmania defending Tasmania; we have Senator Murphy from the Labor Party and on behalf of the Labor Party defending logging in Tasmania; and we have everybody jumping on the bandwagon trying to defend Tasmania.

  Quite honestly, I have seen it all before. I just hope that Senator Faulkner, like his predecessors in this portfolio, has learnt his lesson. I also put on the record that I did ask Senator Faulkner whether he was going to use the external affairs powers. I did not ask him whether he was going to use to spy flights—like somebody else did in the early days—to check out things down there. Given the way he has been savaged by his colleagues from Tasmania, Senator Faulkner might have second thoughts about what he had planned for Tasmania. I have seen what has happened. I have seen the jobs that have been lost and I have seen the uncertainty in the community. As a fourth generation Tasmanian I hope that, for the sake of commonsense and sanity, Senator Faulkner has a second think about all this and approaches his portfolio—as far as Tasmania is concerned, anyway—in a more sane manner.