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Tuesday, 10 March 2009
Page: 1227


Senator Abetz asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts, upon notice, on 16 January 2009:

With reference to the Minister’s announcement on Monday, 5 January 2009:

(1)   What was the purpose of the Minister’s telephone call to Mr Bob McMahon on 5 January 2009.

(2)   What time, to the nearest 15 minutes, was this call made.

(3)   What was the duration of the phone call.

(4)   Did the Minister advise Mr McMahon of his decision regarding the pulp mill approval during this phone call.

(5)   Did the Minister read Mr McMahon his press release, media conference statement or a portion thereof during this conversation.

(6)   Did the Minister personally telephone anyone from Gunns Limited to advise them of his decision prior to the announcement.

(7)   What time, to the nearest 15 minutes, did the Minister or his office contact Gunns Limited to advise them of his decision.

(8)   Did the Minister telephone, contact or in any other way notify anybody else of his decision before the announcement at 12.30 pm; if so, for each instance: (a) who was contacted; (b) what was the time (to the nearest 15 minutes) of the contact; (c) what was the duration of the discussion; and (d) what was the nature of the discussion.

(9)   Did the Minister’s office telephone, contact or in any other way notify anybody else of the Minister’s decision before the announcement at 12.30 pm; if so, for each instance: (a) who was contacted; (b) what was the time (to the nearest 15 minutes) of the contact; (c) what was the duration of the discussion; and (d) what was the nature of the discussion.


Senator Wong (Minister for Climate Change and Water) —The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:

(1)   The purpose of the Minister’s telephone call was to inform Mr McMahon of his decision in respect of the Gunns pulp mill Environmental Impact Management Plan.

(2)   The call was made between 11.30am and 12.30pm on 5 January 2009.

(3)   No record was kept of the duration of the phone call.

(4)   Yes

(5)   No

(6)   No. On the Minister’s instructions, in the hour immediately prior to the press conference of 5 January 2009 the Department contacted Gunns Limited to advise them of the Minister’s decision, and simultaneously sent an electronic copy of the Minister’s letter.

(7)   See response to question 6.

(8)   In the hour immediately prior to the press conference of 5 January 2009 the Minister spoke to a number of persons who had previously made representations in relation to the Gunns Limited pulp mill. The exact time, duration and details of the discussion were not recorded. In all instances the persons telephoned were advised that the information was confidential pending the media conference at 12.30pm.

(9)   Yes. In the hour immediately prior to the press conference of 5 January 2009 calls were made by a member of the Minister’s staff to senators and members with a particular interest in the matter to inform them of the decision. In all instances the persons telephoned were advised that the information was confidential pending the media conference at 12.30pm.