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The exit is ended - at last

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MEDIA RELEASE SENATOR ROBERT BELLAustralian Democrat Senator for Tasmania 20th August CANBERRA PR92/451


Australian Democrat Senator, Robert Bell, congratulated Federal Environment Minister Kelly, for stopping blasting and quarrying at Benders Quarry in Tasmania's south-west.

Senator Bell said Mrs Kelly had finally recognised the facts that had been made available to her since December 1991. "Reports available to the Commonwealth and Tasmanian Governments clearly demonstrate that past and present quarrying operations have damaged the caves and other features which are now known to be

part of the Exit Cave system - the largest cave system in Australia".

Mrs Kelly's move to proclaim regulations under the World Heritage Properties Conservation Act 1983 in the Commonwealth Gazette this morning (Thursday) is a recognition of the power she has. I am disappointed that she did not exercise

these powers when I reminded her of her authority on 24th March, 2nd April, 6th May and 19th August this year.

However, Senator Bell said that the long campaign he had conducted in the Senate in conjunction with the campaign conducted by the Wilderness Society and many other concerned community groups, was worth every minute now that the cave is reprieved.

Senator Bell's persistent campaign included 11 Questions on Notice, 3 Questions without Notice, 9 press releases, 6 Notices of Motion, 4 petitions (a total of 698 signatories), two Suspensions of Standing Orders (Senator Bell and Senator Coulter)

and one adjournment speech.

Senator Bell said he was particularly pleased to see that the Commonwealth would not bypass the need to safeguard the interests of employees at the quarry.

"Mrs Kelly has finally taken the responsible steps incumbent upon the Minister for the Environment. The pity now is that the Tasmanian Government, through procrastination, intransigence, if not sheer stupidity, has lost the chance to receive Commonwealth assistance to relocate the quarry", Senator Bell concluded.

FOR FURTHER COMMENT: Robert Bell 06-2773770