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Monday, 5 June 1989
Page: 3308

Senator PUPLICK —Is the Minister for Resources, the Minister responsible for the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority, aware that the Authority has chosen World Environment Day to drain the Guthega Dam? Is he aware-and, if not, why not-that this activity was undertaken in deliberate defiance of the warnings of the New South Wales State Pollution Control Commission and the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service not to proceed with the draining of the dam and that such activity would breach the New South Wales Clean Waters Act? Does the Minister support the fact that this Commonwealth authority is immune from prosecution by the State of New South Wales for this environmentally irresponsible act which was specifically opposed by the State Government and its authorities? Finally, what advice, if any, was sought or received from Senator Richardson about the environmental consequences of this activity on behalf of a Commonwealth statutory authority or does the Minister take the view that, whereas State governments and other bodies can be criticised and attacked by Senator Richardson for their alleged environmental vandalism, it is perfectly all right for a Commonwealth body to behave in this disgraceful fashion in defiance of the advice of the State Pollution Control Commission and the State National Parks and Wildlife Service and in contravention of the State Clean Waters Act?

Senator COOK —The Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority is one of the authorities covered by my portfolio interest as Minister for Resources. It is, however, as Senator Puplick has rightly observed, a statutory authority. As such, it does not seek clearance for operational decisions from its Minister. It makes those decisions within its own organisational structure. That organisational structure consists of a board which has representatives from New South Wales, Victoria and the Commonwealth.

Senator Archer —We know all this.

Senator COOK —Senator Archer may know it but Senator Puplick may not. I am concerned to complete Senator Puplick's education, not Senator Archer's. One imagines that decisions of this nature would have been cleared with that board. However, now that Senator Puplick has raised the matter and drawn it to my attention, I will investigate the issue and report further to the Senate.