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Wednesday, 29 June 1994
Page: 2304

Senator IAN MACDONALD (3.06 p.m.) —I move:

  That the Senate take note of the answer given by the Minister for the Environment, Sport and Territories (Senator Faulkner), to a question without notice asked by Senator Reynolds this day, relating to the Port Hinchinbrook development proposal.

This question was obviously a dorothy dixer to Senator Faulkner from his factional ally, a fellow member of the Left, to give Senator Faulkner an opportunity of dumping on the Queensland Labor unity faction government of Mr Goss. Of course, Senator Faulkner relished the opportunity of saying to his factional colleagues in Queensland that he was going to pay back the Labor unity government over this Port Hinchinbrook development.

  I wanted to ask Senator Faulkner a follow-up question but unfortunately I could not get the call. Senator Faulkner might read the Hansard and give me an answer some time. As Senator Reynolds has said, work is about to start on this project within the next couple of weeks. Senator Faulkner has said that he is going to stop it. He has not said so in quite so many words, but sort of assuring—

  Senator Faulkner interjecting

Senator IAN MACDONALD —It was, was it? So Senator Faulkner is going to stop it. I want to know how Senator Faulkner is going to manage this. I did ask him this in estimates. He was pretty vague then. While he wants to dump on the Right government in Queensland, he does not want to be too specific about it. I want to give him the opportunity of again dumping on the Queensland Right of the Labor Party—and Mr Goss's government—and telling the parliament how he is going to stop the Queensland government and the developers from proceeding with that development.

  The development has been approved, I understand, by the Queensland government, after a lengthy investigation. As I understand it, it is a project that has widespread community support. It does have environmental conditions. I, like Senator Coulter of the Australian Democrats, insist that it have intense environmental conditions. I understand that those conditions have been imposed by the current Queensland Labor government, which has investigated this matter very thoroughly.

  In that event, I would simply like to know what Senator Faulkner is going to do to stop the Queensland government from proceeding. Is it going to be another battle royal between the elected Queensland government and the federal government, as we have seen in the past in various environmental matters? Is it going to be the sort of environmental battle between the government and the states that has happened in Tasmania? What does Senator Faulkner propose? Perhaps he can tell us whether we can look forward to protracted court cases between the Queensland government and the federal government over these matters.

  Finally, Senator Faulkner might indicate whether any of this has anything to do with a payback for the Right supporting another nominee for President of the Queensland Labor Party. Senator Faulkner's mate, Mr McLean, was president. He was overturned by another leftie. That deal was somehow done with the Right in Queensland. Senator Faulkner may wish to tell us about it—Senator Reynolds gave him the opportunity but he did not rise to it quite as explicitly as he might perhaps have liked. Perhaps if I give him the opportunity again, he will indicate what part his decisions in these matters will play in the internal factional brawling within the Queensland Labor Party.