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Wednesday, 7 December 1983
Page: 3419

Senator MASON(5.26) —Thank you, Mr Deputy President. The Australian Democrats welcome the tabling of the report on a national conservation strategy for Australia but I must say that when the people formulating the strategy first met some time ago we were a little sceptical about the likelihood of strategy being achieved.

We wish to express concern, however, in three areas. First, there is no mention in the list of the obstacles in this report about the problem of public access to information. This has been one of the things which has cursed the environmental cause for many years. Our second major concern is that the question of standing has not been addressed under priority national actions and we call on the Government to allow access to the courts to all interested persons and organisations to ensure compliance with environmental laws. This is a matter which I think could be looked at. Thirdly, to brutally compress my comments, we also believe that environmental assessment should normally include, for proposals and policies which are significant, a wide extent of public comment; a public statement of the nature benefits and impacts of proposals which could be brought to public attention well before a project begins to come into operation.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! The time allocated for consideration of ministerial papers under sessional orders has expired.

Senator Crowley —Mr Deputy President, I seek some clarification. My understanding is that those papers listed but not spoken to can be debated without further listing later this week.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —No, there will be no General Business on Thursday during which they may be considered and if no motion is moved with regard to them now they will disappear from the Notice Paper.