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Friday, 9 December 1983
Page: 3603


Senator JONES —Has the Attorney-General's attention been drawn to the statement in this morning's Press that the President of the Rainforest Conservation Society of Queensland, Dr Keto, has claimed that the action to construct a road from Cape Tribulation to Bloomfield was illegal and unconstitutional? Dr Keto further claimed that no action had been taken to allow construction of the road and that in accordance with the procedures laid down, the Director of the National Parks and Wildlife Service should have made a written request to the Governor-in-Council followed by a proclamation published in the Government Gazette, or, failing that action being taken, revoking of part of the national park by the State Parliament of Queensland to allow construction of this road. I ask the Attorney-General for his view in relation to the claim that construction of the road is illegal and unconstitutional. Has any written request been made by the Director of the National Parks and Wildlife Service? Has his Department been notified of any action taken by the State Government of Queensland to revoke part of the park to allow construction of the road?


Senator Peter Baume —I raise a point of order, Mr President. Part of that question seeks a legal opinion from the Attorney-General and is clearly not allowed under the Standing Orders.


The PRESIDENT —I was about to remind the honourable senator that a portion of the question sought a legal opinion. In that respect, it is not an eligible question. The other parts of the question are eligible to receive the attention of the Attorney-General.


Senator GARETH EVANS —Mr President, there seems to be a principle applied with some flexibility in this place. Senator Bjelke-Petersen's question earlier on may well have satisfied-


Senator Chaney —It asked whether you had an opinion.


Senator GARETH EVANS —I did, indeed, have an opinion. Regrettably I do not have an opinion on this one so even if it were permissible for me to offer one, I would not be able to do so. I will, however, seek further information on the very important matters to which Senator Jones referred and see whether it may not be possible to assist him with further information and advice.