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Friday, 29 May 1987
Page: 3634

Mr KEOGH —I direct a question to the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Environment.

Mr Ian Cameron —This is your last, Len.

Mr KEOGH —I am very happy to be in a position to bring a little humour into the ranks of those on the National Party benches. They do not get many opportunities these days. They will not get many more in the future. Is the Minister aware of the stated intention of the Tasmanian Government to proceed with logging operations in the Lemonthyme and Southern Forests despite the Minister's announcement yesterday of Commonwealth action in the High Court of Australia? What does the Commonwealth intend to do about this?

Mr Hodgman —Madam Speaker; I raise a point of order under standing order 144. The question invites the expression of a legal opinion. As the Commonwealth has announced-a check with the High Court registry will confirm this-that it intends to make application for an injunction, the matter is clearly sub judice.

Madam SPEAKER —No. The honourable member is quite wrong. The honourable member did not ask for a legal opinion. He asked what the Minister was going to do about this.

Mr COHEN —I understand that this morning the Tasmanian Minister for Forests, Mr Groom, said that logging operations in the Lemonthyme and Southern Forests would go ahead as planned, regardless of Commonwealth Government action in the courts. Such action by Tasmania would be totally irresponsible. The Tasmanian Government is actively encouraging defiance of the law of this Parliament. It is behaving in a mindlessly provocative fashion as it has throughout the whole affair. I remind honourable members that the Commonwealth Government has been forced to initiate legal action in this matter.

Mr Tuckey —I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. From my understanding of news items this morning action has been taken in the High Court. If that is so, the Minister is putting a case and that surely is sub judice.

Madam SPEAKER —I do not see it as sub judice. I do not think the High Court will be too worried about what is said in this place. I think the Minister is quite within his rights to answer the question.

Mr Tuckey —Madam Speaker, on a further point of order: Is the matter listed with the High Court or not?

Madam SPEAKER —I do not know.

Mr Tuckey —The Minister would know.

Madam SPEAKER —Does the Minister know whether it is listed with the High Court?

Mr Cohen —We have briefed senior counsel and papers are to be lodged this afternoon.

Madam SPEAKER —In that case, I think we will let that question go.