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Wednesday, 23 October 2002
Page: 5781

Senator IAN MACDONALD (Minister for Forestry and Conservation) (6:44 PM) —In spite of Senator McLucas's fine words, the Labor Party and the Democrats have just prevented the government from having any response to this most ridiculous and unfortunate motion to disallow Great Barrier Reef Marine Park regulations. Effectively, the Democrats and the Labor Party have had their say. The government are going to be denied that opportunity, because a number of very important pieces of legislation have to be dealt with tonight. I am constrained by an agreement to finish this debate prior to 10 to seven. That is what the government have agreed to and that is what we will do: we will stop before 10 to seven. But it means that I now have three minutes to answer Senator McLucas's 10-minute speech and Senator Bartlett's 15-minute speech on this very important issue. I can well understand why Senator McLucas and the Labor Party do not want us to deal with this.

Senator Mackay —Mr Acting Deputy President, I rise on a point of order: I understand the frustration of Senator Ian Macdonald; however, I would like to make this point—

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Lightfoot)—No, it is a point of order that you should make, Senator Mackay.

Senator Mackay —My point of order goes to relevance. The opposition have given up the time that we normally use to debate documents in order to progress a number of bills that the government want to go through. I would caution the minister—I understand his frustration—to please be a bit more judicious in his use of language.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESI-DENT —That is not a point of order.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —Mr Acting Deputy President, I now have 120 seconds to deal with this very important issue. This is all about not having the full story told. Senator McLucas is having all sorts of problems up her way. We have consulted with everybody: we have consulted with the fishermen, we have consulted with EcoFish, we have consulted with the Cape York Marine Advisory Group, we have consulted with Indigenous people—all of these people have been consulted.

Senator McLucas —Mr Acting Deputy President, I rise on a point of order that goes to relevance. I suggest that the minister is misleading the Senate.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESI-DENT —That is not a point of order.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —The consultation has been wide. The arguments against this motion are so telling that it is a disappointment to me that the Senate will not be able to hear the arguments against it and make a decision based upon those arguments. We have done everything that needs to be done. It is a great conservation outcome, and it is an outcome that looks after the livelihoods of some of Senator McLucas's constituents. I am absolutely amazed that Senator McLucas would be supporting this motion which is an attack on the working people of Cape York. I would love to develop that argument. I would love to be able to point out to Senator McLucas's constituents just how much she has acted in their worst interests by, first of all, ensuring that there is no debate.

Senator Mackay —Mr Acting Deputy President, I rise on a point of order: that is a reflection on Senator McLucas; I ask that it be withdrawn.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESI-DENT —I do not think that is right. There is no reflection on Senator McLucas.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —The Labor Party will take every single opportunity to make sure that the truth about this disallowance motion is not heard. The motion is ill-conceived. It is not appropriate—

Senator Mackay —Do you want another point of order?

Senator IAN MACDONALD —I will not buckle under your threats, Senator Mackay.

Senator Mackay —We are trying to get your bills through!

Senator IAN MACDONALD —Would you keep quiet and let me have my two minutes without interruption. Your speaker has had 10 minutes and Senator Bartlett has had 15 minutes. The motion is ill-conceived, it is against conservation outcomes, it is against the local people, it is against working people, it is against the Indigenous people of this country. Unfortunately, I can say no more.

Question agreed to.