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Thursday, 25 August 1994
Page: 343


Senator COULTER (11.29 a.m.) —I want to briefly put on the record that, yet again, this indicates a further weakness in the path that this government has taken. Here we have a piece of legislation, the proclamation of which is dependent upon actions by each state and territory government. Should they fail to pass complementary legislation, this whole legislation will automatically be revoked and we will be back to square one. This is the written word which indicates the way in which this federal government has simply handed to the states the right not only to veto individual standards but to veto the whole process.

  I accept what the minister says. It is inevitable that an amendment like this be passed because of the very structure of the bill and the very nature of the process by which this bill has come into being. The process is flawed. The structure is flawed. I repeat: the government should rethink its approach to this. It should move away from the intergovernmental agreement. It should be moving to pass strong national legislation in this area by using its undoubted powers. It should certainly be consulting with the states but not giving the states that right of veto. This is simply the written word which sets down on paper in concrete form the abject failure of this process to deliver what initially many of us hoped would come out of the establishment of a national environmental protection council.