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Thursday, 15 June 1989
Page: 4120


Senator RICHARDSON —I undertook to give Senator Boswell a further answer on some questions he raised concerning Christmas Island phosphate mining. The Minister for the Arts, Tourism and Territories, Mr Holding, met with Mr John Booth and the liquidator of the Phosphate Mining Corporation of Christmas Island, Mr Robert Yeomans, on 31 May 1989 to allow Mr Booth to clarify his concerns over the evaluation of proposals to recommence mining on Christmas Island. The meeting lasted some 2 1/2 hours. Mr Booth's principal concerns centred on a comparison of his and Elders' proposals with respect to royalties, tonnages, phosphate prices, research and development on C-grade phosphate products and rehabilitation conditions. He was also concerned with the post-tender negotiations with Elders.

Given the degree of detail in Mr Booth's oral submission, Mr Holding asked him to summarise his position in writing, which he has now done by way of a 17-page letter, received by facsimile at about 4 p.m. on Tuesday, 13 June 1989. Mr Holding has written to Mr Yeomans attaching a copy of Mr Booth's letter. Mr Holding's office has further contacted Mr Yeomans requesting him to report back on this matter as soon as possible, giving specific responses to the points raised. Mr Holding's office has written and faxed a letter to Mr Booth informing him of the above action. Given the detail in Mr Booth's latest correspondence, it will take some time to do justice to the issues. It should be remembered, Senator Boswell, that the response from Mr Booth was almost a week late.

While the Government believes the matter is now one for Mr Yeomans in the first instance, Mr Holding has nevertheless asked the Department also to undertake an analysis of the various issues. Once all this information is available I shall further inform the Senate. I will also keep Senator Boswell informed as matters unfold.