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Wednesday, 29 June 1994
Page: 2293

Senator REYNOLDS —I address my question to the Minister for the Environment, Sport and Territories. I refer to reports that the Queensland Coordinator General will this week issue permits for the immediate commencement of work at Oyster Point, adjacent to the Hinchinbrook Channel in North Queensland. Given that this area is currently subject to a World Heritage values assessment, how can state government approvals proceed prior to the receipt and consideration of Dr Peter Valentine's assessment report?

Senator Ian Macdonald —Not another factional brawl—the Left against the Right.

Senator Alston —Left against the Left.

Senator Ian Macdonald —Left against the Left, is it?

Senator FAULKNER —They are the only fights we win. I am aware of reports—

The PRESIDENT —Order! Not only are the interjections disorderly, in this case they are also irrelevant.

Senator FAULKNER —I am aware of reports that work may commence on the Oyster Point development on 1 July. As I have said previously, I have concerns about the possible impact of this proposal on the World Heritage values of the surrounding region. These concerns have been brought to the attention of the Queensland government in correspondence of 3 June from my department, and subsequently by departmental officials and me in discussions.

  My department has appointed a consultant to review the World Heritage values of the area surrounding the proposed marina. The draft report is due on 30 June 1994, with the final report expected by the end of July. I have said before that the Commonwealth will work to ensure that World Heritage values are protected. However, until the report is received from the consultant, it is premature for the government to consider the use of Commonwealth powers.

  Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Ray, this is a serious matter and deserves attention.

Senator FAULKNER —Through you, Mr President, I point out to Senator Reynolds only that the Commonwealth's strong preference is that beyond those decisions already made, no further Queensland government decisions be taken on the proposal until the consultancy has been completed and the World Heritage values which might be affected have been identified. I can assure Senator Reynolds that the government will act to protect the World Heritage values of the Hinchinbrook Channel and surrounding areas if those values are threatened.