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Opposition accuses environment minister of misleading parliament



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JOINT STATEMENT

SHADOW MINISTER FOR PRIMARY INDUSTRY, BRUCE LLOYD

AND

THE SHADOW MINISTER FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND THE ENVIRONMENT, FRED CHANEY

OPPOSITION ACCUSES ENVIRONMENT MINISTER OF MISLEADING PARLIAMENT

The Opposition has accused Environment Minister Ros Kelly of misleading Parliament over the World Environment Day School Kit affair.

In response to a Question Without Notice on Thursday from the Shadow Minister for the Environment, Mr Chaney, Mrs Kelly said:

"I endorsed the cover, not the contents, which neither my office nor I had seen."

Mrs Kelly made it very clear that the first time she or her

Ministerial staff had seen the offensive and biased kit was on Wednesday, the day before the Minister was due to publicly launch it at Parliament House.

However, now her staff have admitted in the media that they received the kit more than a week before Mrs Kelly claimed was the case.

Given that Mrs Kelly's office initially described the

inaccuracies in the kit as a "monumental departmental stuff-up", it is still inconceivable the Minister did not know.

Mrs Kelly's staff only admitted to seeing the kit a week earlier than the Minister claimed, after the Opposition revealed the National Association of Forest Industries (NAFI) had written to the Minister complaining about the school kit and demanding it be withdrawn.

NAFI faxed the letter to Mrs Kelly's office on May 19, while the day before an Opposition backbencher, Stewart McArthur, lodged a Freedom of Information application with Mrs Kelly's Department seeking all documentation relating to the school kit.

Mrs Kell_ s staff now have been forced to admit they saw the kit a week earlier, were aware of concerns over its contents, but surprisingly did not believe it necessary to raise the issue with the Minister.

This is unbelievable because the kit carried Mrs Kelly's signed endorsement and was to be personally launched by h er.

COMMONWEALTH

PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY MICAH

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It is a gross dereliction of ministerial responsibility to blame the department for the error and in doing so mislead the

Parliament about the circumstances surrounding her endorsement.

Mrs Kelly must accept responsibility for this monumental ministerial blunder, which with each emerging piece of evidence reveals more of a cover-up to mislead Parliament.

The only honourable action the Minister can now take is to

resign.

end 55/92 31/5/92