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Button answers further confuse commonwealth stand on pulp mills



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COMMONWEALTH PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY MICAH

MEDIA RELEASE

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T H E S E N A T E

JOINT STATEMENT BY- SENATOR FRED CHANEY. LEADER OF THE’ v . .OPPOSITION IN THE SENATE AND SHADOW MINISTER FOR INDUSTRY. (TECHNOLOGY AND COMMERCE,. AND SENATOR CHRIS PUPLICK. SHADOW MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND THE ARTS

BUTTON ANSWERS FURTHER CONFUSE COMMONWEALTH STAND ON PULP MILLS

There is an urgent need for the Hawke Government to clarify its requirements for any future proposals to develop pulp mills in Australia.

Answers given by the Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce, Senator Button, in the Senate today have shown further confusion.

In the Wesley Vale mill fiasco the government was condemned on all sides, including by the President of the ACTU, for its failure to co-ordinate industry and environmental policies.

Three days ago, Senator Button, Sena.tor Richardson and Mr Kerin released a statement which purported to deal with the manner in which it would consider the development of mills like that proposed for Wesley Vale and announced the

despatch overseas of a scientific mission.

That statement concluded:

** "However, the process to be adopted will have, regard to the respective responsibility of . Commonwealth/State Governments with the Commonwealth's role being confined to the impacts of effluents on the receiving environment" (our emphasis)

Any normal reading of those words leave no doubt that the Commonwealth's interest in future pulp mill development would be restricted to the very important, but relatively narrow, issue of the impact of effluents.

But today in answer to our questions, Senator Button greatly broadened the area of Commonwealth interest.

He reopened the door, which apparently had been closed by the May 2 statement, on the whole issue of the resources available for pulp mills with comments such as:

” .... I did not wish to be locked into saying that resources issues will not have to be considered in respect of other mills, that's all".

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and

"....there are a whole variety of considerations about resource which have to be taken into account".

The Government's major failing in its botched handling of Hesley Vale was its inability, within a reasonable time frame, to lay down its requirements to the proponents.

All its energies since should have been directed at sorting out this issue, to arrive at clear and definite guidelines so that the tragedy of Wesley Vale is not repeated.

Tuesday's statement purported to address that issue and to define Commonwealth interest. Today's answers take the debate back to square one.

:a n b e r r a 5 May 1989 ' Contact: Keith Kessell (062) 77 3170

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