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Tuesday, 19 November 2002
Page: 6755


Senator ELLISON (Minister for Justice and Customs) (4:57 PM) —by leave—On behalf of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, I wish to respond to the order agreed to by the Senate on 18 November 2002 relating to a document entitled Review of the implementation of oceans policy: final report. The document has been prepared for cabinet as part of the government's ongoing review of the national oceans policy. The Commonwealth's 1998 oceans policy committed the government to a comprehensive review of the effectiveness of the policy every five years to ensure that the identified strategic directions and specific actions contribute effectively to the achievement of the policy's goals. The government is committed to ensuring that Australia's oceans policy is effective in achieving the best possible management of our oceans.

I note the statement of former Senator Gareth Evans in December 1993, where he stated:

The truth of the matter is that executive governments from time immemorial have claimed some degree—not a complete degree—of immunity from scrutiny of their internal processes in order to enable decision making to take place in an orderly way, and allow communications to pass between ministers and policy issues to be addressed in a way that is not necessarily the subject of intense public scrutiny at the time that that decision making process is still under way.

This position has been accepted by both Labor and coalition governments. In accordance with this established precedent, I do not consider it appropriate for the report to be released at this stage.