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Thursday, 27 November 1986
Page: 2890

Senator GARETH EVANS (Minister for Resources and Energy)(3.44) —As we all know, there has been a considerable rush of events since mid-September on the issue of mining in Kakadu National Park as it affects not only stage 3 but also stage 1 and more particularly stage 2. That rush of events has somewhat prolonged the duration of the Government's consideration of these matters beyond what was my expectation when I responded to Estimates Committee E in September. Nonetheless, what I said yesterday remains the case. I expect Cabinet to consider this matter finally in the next two weeks or so, after which I would expect a very full statement to be made setting out our position on all the various matters that Senator Durack has raised.

I do not want to go into the detail of that at this stage except to say that the policy for stage 3 is evolving broadly along the lines that I indicated to the Estimates Committee. I do not resile from anything that I said to the Committee on 18 September or at the Press conference at the time of the decision on stages 1 and 2 a day or two earlier. Beyond that, honourable senators will appreciate that, as much as oppositions can get frustrated from time to time from not being in on the action, making the decisions and participating in the process of consultation with all the relevant interests and weighing and balancing those interests, the reality is that the decision-making process ultimately has to be one for government. While that decision-making process is being finalised, there is necessarily a limit to what one can properly put on the public record. I repeat that it is certainly my hope, and I believe that it will be realised, that within the next couple of weeks or so the matter will be finally resolved, at least in terms of describing the basic parameters of the policy. There may be some further details to be filled in. An announcement will then be made.