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Thursday, 30 June 1994
Page: 2448

Senator CALVERT —My question is also directed to the Minister for the Environment, Sport and Territories. I refer to the minister's meeting last night with the nine Tasmanian Labor senators and members, which the honourable member for Bass described as `sometimes heated.' Why did Mrs Smith describe the minister's plans as `lunacy?' Why was he told by his Tasmanian Labor colleagues to keep out of Tasmanian environmental affairs? Is it true that Mrs Smith told the minister that his plans would cost export dollars and jobs? If so, what was his response?

Senator FAULKNER —I did have a very enjoyable meeting last night in my office and it is true that Mrs Smith and a range of other very good representatives of Tasmania were there. It is true, of course, as Senator Calvert says, that they are Labor representatives, and that reminds me of the drubbing those opposite got at the last federal election. At that meeting we talked about a range of issues that I addressed earlier in the week in a speech I made—

Senator Burns —Good speech, too!

Senator FAULKNER —Thank you, Senator. Of course, I outlined to those members of parliament that the issues that I had addressed were issues put on the agenda by this government. I said that I wanted to see results and I indicated the directions I wanted to move in order to see those results achieved.

  I also listened to the views of other caucus colleagues, which is a practice that I adopt very regularly, and so do, I think, other ministers in this government. It is a practice that I intend to continue to adopt. I think it is useful from my perspective as a minister for the environment.

  There is no doubt that environmental concerns are very significant in the state of Tasmania. My door will remain open to Tasmanian Labor members of parliament. I want to hear their views; I am interested in them. I believe, as they have said, that the discussions that I had were very useful and very productive.

Senator CALVERT —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. As a fourth generation Tasmanian, I ask the minister why it is that every time we have a change of environment ministers Tasmania always suffers? Will the minister, like his colleague the Attorney-General, be using international treaties to override and embarrass Tasmania just to impress a few of his mates in Melbourne and Sydney? In future, will the minister consult with his Labor colleagues from Tasmania and his cabinet colleagues instead of the Wilderness Society before he makes these sorts of decisions?

Senator FAULKNER —Allegedly, these are issues of great concern to all Tasmanian members of parliament. I say through you, Mr President, that I thought it was abysmal that the only Tasmanian members of the federal parliament who contacted me were from this side of the house—the government side. Not one person from the opposition, when I was chatting to opposition senators over the last few days, bothered to say a word to me. If Tasmanian senators opposite were serious

about representing the people of Tasmania, they might have bothered to go out of their way to lift the phone or write a letter to contact me. I had a conversation with Senator Calvert about 24 hours ago in this chamber and he never mentioned it.

  Opposition senators interjecting

Senator Parer —I raise a point of order, Mr President. I draw your attention to the relevance of this. The minister is making no attempt whatsoever to answer the question asked by Senator Calvert. He is just engaging in insults which have no relevance to the question asked.

The PRESIDENT —I would say that polemical outbursts like that get the reaction that they deserve; and that is why it is impossible to hear oneself speaking because of the interjections. Senator Faulkner should keep to the point.