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Thursday, 19 September 1985
Page: 756

Senator MISSEN —My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Environment. Firstly, was not protection of the Daintree area part of the Government's 1984 election platform? Secondly, did the Government in that year request the Australian Heritage Commission to prepare a report on the Daintree and to determine its world heritage status? On 12 September 1984, did the Hon. Barry Cohen announce that the study had recommended world heritage listing? Thirdly, contrary to these facts, was it reported in May 1985 that a briefing paper prepared for the Prime Minister stated, inter alia, that nowhere in the platform was there a requirement that the Government must automatically seek world heritage listing? Fourthly, does the Government agree that it has indeed a clear obligation to the electorate to take every possible measure to protect the Daintree? Fifthly, why is the Government now looking for excuses not to honour this obligation? Sixthly, is it not reasonable to believe that the Government now regards the Daintree as expendable, given Mr Cohen's statement to the effect that application for listing will be made only with the co-operation of the Queensland Government, when Queensland has made it clear that such co-operation will not be forthcoming? Finally, what was the point of the Government's requesting the aforementioned study if the Government had no intention of acting on its recommendations?

Senator RYAN —Senator Missen has asked a number of detailed questions concerning Government action regarding protection of the Daintree. I will have to refer those to the Minister for an answer. I remind Senator Missen that our Government has taken a number of steps to seek the co-operation of the Queensland Government in preserving this very important area. The importance of the area has always been acknowledged by our Government and I know that Mr Cohen has spent a great deal of time in discussions with the Queensland authorities, endeavouring to find a way in which this could happen. However, I will refer the very detailed questions asked by Senator Missen to Mr Cohen for a reply.

Senator MISSEN —I ask a supplementary question, Mr President. Has not the Minister had two days in which to obtain this information from the Minister? Why has she not obtained it?

Senator RYAN —I have had no prior notice of Senator Missen's interest in this matter.