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Thursday, 27 November 1986
Page: 2840

Senator GRIMES (Minister for Community Services)(10.13) —In answer to Senator Newman's questions, certainly the Touring and Access Committee of the Australia Council has excessive representation from Sydney, on looking at it. I give the answer that I am sure has been given in the past, that these committees are not selected on a State basis, no matter how much that may seem to be desirable, any more than conservative Cabinets are picked on that basis.

Senator Newman —The original people have been taken off.

Senator GRIMES —I know they have and the reason for that was, as Senator Newman said partly, because of the travel vote. There are other committees with an excess of people from other States on them. Most of the committee's membership is in Sydney. The committee assesses applications and those assessments by and large are done in Sydney. The committee is in contact with members of the Tasmanian, Western Australian and other communities by telephone continually. I will raise the concerns Senator Newman has expressed. I certainly do not argue that it is desirable that we get as broad a representation as possible in a Federation such as this. I will bring the matters that she raised to the attention of the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Environment (Mr Cohen).

Senator Kilgariff raised the matter of the listing of parts of Kakadu National Park under the World Heritage. As he said, in response to the decision of the High Court of Australia the Government has withdrawn in respect of the listing. We have available for Senator Kilgariff, if he would like it, a telex stating what has happened regarding Kakadu.

I do not believe that this is the appropriate place for me to give a detailed answer on this matter. First of all, I am not the Minister responsible for this area. The Minister is in another place and will obviously be giving a detailed reply in the House of Representatives today. Secondly, a court case involving these leases has yet to be heard on 8 December in Darwin. I would not like to intrude and get myself into trouble by intervening in that court case having regard to my lack of knowledge at the moment. I think it is reasonable for me to say that this is a matter which has arisen overnight. If we had not been dealing with the Appropriation Bills the honourable senator would not have been able to raise this matter with me this morning. Quite frankly, I think it would be appropriate for him to ask a question on this matter during Question Time.