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Thursday, 1 September 1994
Page: 763


Senator FAULKNER (Minister for the Environment, Sport and Territories) (10.28 a.m.) —The government does not see the need for this reference and we will not be supporting the motion moved by Senator Chapman. Senator Chapman has effectively used up a great deal of time for debate in his contribution and I do not wish to do that. This is obviously a matter that will be dealt with at a later stage.

  The exhaustive negotiations for a desertification convention were concluded on 17 June this year. Australia did play a very positive role and a very active role throughout those negotiations. I think it is important to point out to the Senate that Australia's delegation to these negotiation sessions included not only representatives of state governments—Senator Chapman emphasised that issue—but also representatives from the National Farmers Federation. Senator Chapman was keen to point out that he had two supporters from the NFF in New South Wales and South Australia. I think it is very instructive to realise that the NFF was involved in the Australian delegation, as was the Australian Conservation Foundation.

  The negotiating committee recognised the need for greater coordination and efficiency of existing multilateral and bilateral programs to combat desertification and agreed to the establishment of a global mechanism which, as part of its general facilitating role, will work to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of existing financial mechanisms. The government does not see a need to revisit these issues, which have already been more than adequately canvassed, and will not be supporting this reference to the Senate Standing Committee on Rural and Regional Affairs.