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Thursday, 13 May 1993
Page: 567

Senator IAN MACDONALD —by leave—I move:

  That the Senate take note of the answer given by the Minister for Science and Small Business (Senator Schacht) in response to a question without notice asked by Senator Ian Macdonald on 13 May 1993 relating to sandmining on Fraser Island.

The Goss Government's draft plan for the Great Sandy region, which takes in Fraser Island, allows for the exploration and extraction of oil, gas and minerals, as long as they are conducted `in a manner which does not threaten other values of the region'. There is a concern that this will allow for mining in that very fragile area. Senator Schacht says that the Minister for the Environment, Sport and Territories (Mrs Kelly) has said there will be no mining. Of course, we have learnt from a long, sad history that we simply cannot take the word of a member of this Government. Senator Ray well knows that; he promised an artillery school for Townsville before the last election and it did not eventuate.

Senator Robert Ray —That is a lie. I did not; you know that is not true. Stop lying.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —That is true.

Senator Robert Ray —I have never commented on an artillery school for Townsville.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —It was a promise before the 1990 election.

Senator Robert Ray —When I was not Minister, so retract.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —I am sorry; it was Senator Ray's predecessor. The former Minister for Defence, just a few weeks before the 1990 election, promised an artillery school for Townsville. It did not eventuate. I simply use that example to say that we cannot accept the promises of Ministers of this Government.

  The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Giles)—Senator Macdonald, it might be appropriate if you apologise for the fact that you very closely associated Senator Ray with the allegations you made.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —You are right, Madam Acting Deputy President. Senator Ray was not the Minister; it was his predecessor. I apologise for that. It was the then Minister for Defence. Senator Ray, I think, is the present Minister for Defence and certainly was before the election. The point I am making is that we cannot trust the word of Ministers of this Government. That is just one example. Examples are legion if one wants to go through them. That is one that springs to mind very easily.

  If Mrs Kelly, the Minister for the environment, says that no mining will take place, why did she not insist that the draft management plan contain some written guarantee of that? The Federal Government has long found itself without any scruples in interfering in environmental matters in Queensland, and the question of the World Heritage listing of the wet tropics rainforest is a very clear example of that.

  The Federal Government always does this sort of thing. It has no hesitation in doing it. If it has had no hesitation before, why would it not do it now? It simply leaves in some confusion the question of whether the Queensland Labor Government will allow mining on Fraser Island in the Great Sandy region of Queensland. That confusion should be overcome by a definite statement in the management plan for Fraser Island. I call upon Mrs Kelly, if it is her view that no mining will take place, to insist that the Goss Labor Government in Queensland does something about making it part of the management plan.