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Hill refuses to rule out Daintree power plan

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Senator Meg Lees Australian Democrats Deputy Leader and Environment Spokesperson

December 9, 1996 MEDIA RELEASE 96/863


ENVIRONMENT Minister Robert Hill has refused to rule out Federal Government support for the extension of electricity into the World Heritage Daintree region, the Australian Democrats say.

Democrats Environment Spokesperson Senator Meg Lees today asked the Minister if he supported the Queensland Government's plans to extend power north of the Daintree River by connecting the region to the electricity grid. He refused to rule out this option in the question and in the supplementary question.

"The Minister's typically weak response evaded the issue of where this Government stands on damaging the Daintree," Senator Lees said. "Extending electricity into the Daintree would be the beginning of the end of this unique and valuable ecosystem. This could be the start of development clawing its way into an area which many Australians have fought hard to protect.

"We would like to have thought Senator Hill would categorically rule out this devastating Queensland Government proposal but, once again, he has proven the Coalition is not to be trusted on the environment.

"Now it is likely we will see a sham EIS, with the most predictable outcome being the State and Federal governments sanctioning the destruction of the Daintree, against the wishes of the local people.

"After his disastrous decision to approve the Port Hinchinbrook development, his support for fishing experiments on protected areas of the Great Barrier Reef and his infamously poor response to Greenhouse, I have little faith in Senator Hill's ability to fight for the protection of the Daintree."


Also in the Senate today, the Australian Democrats voted to disallow the Government's woodchip regulations, saying more precious forests now were under threat.

"This Government has put the future of our forests, our soils, our water catchments and our unique biodiversity in jeopardy by expanding this ravenous industry," Senator Lees said. COMMONWEALTH /cont


D emocrats

Senator Meg Lees Australian Democrats Deputy Leader and Environment Spokesperson

December 9,1996 MEDIA RELEASE ____________ 96/863

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Senator Lees said the Government - in refusing to focus on the plantation sector - was not only ensuring future generations would not be able to enjoy Australia's precious forests but also jeopardising the future of timber workers.

"Longterm employment prospects for timber industry lie in the plantation sector, not in the woodchipping and logging of our forests," Senator Lees said.

To arrange comment contact Kelly Westell on (06) 277 3765 or Senator Lees on 0418 804 505.

D emocrats