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Wednesday, 26 May 1993
Page: 1316


Senator CAMPBELL (12.38 p.m.) —I think the matter Senator Macdonald raised is quite properly dealt with in this committee stage. The Minister's second reading speech and the explanatory memorandum go into some detail as to the administration of how the charge will be raised. I am sure that all honourable senators, particularly Senator Coulter and Senator Chamarette, would be most interesting in knowing how this charge will be administered.

  The problems that Senator Macdonald raised are absolutely central to whether this Bill achieves its objectives. If one is to set out to achieve a $1 per day per person levy, the way it is collected is absolutely pivotal to whether that levy can be applied to the purposes of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the very central purposes of the legislation. If it is collected in a convoluted, bureaucratic, administratively complex way, the money that could be given to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to do its job under the specific purposes of this Bill will not be facilitated.

  There is probably a range of ways that a dollar per person per day can be collected. Senator Macdonald is asking a very legitimate question in the committee stage consideration of the Bill. Because the Minister does not know the answer, because she has not been briefed on this matter correctly, she has become very defensive and indeed aggressive on this matter. Indeed, she has been making imputations as to whether Senator Macdonald has sensible motives in raising this matter. It is quite proper that he raises these matters.

  The committee deserves an answer on how the charge will be collected. We need to know whether a collection tin will be put next to the ramp on to the cruise ship or whether the fee will be collected through the fare structures. These are matters which would normally and quite properly be resolved through consultation between the industry, the authority and the Government.

  Senator Macdonald contradicted what Senator Chamarette said in her motion. He said that the consultation which took place prior to this levy legislation being introduced was virtually non-existent. Senator Chamarette said that it was the conclusion of a long process of consultation with the local community and local industry; Senator Macdonald said it is not. We are now being told by the Minister that consultation is going on on how this levy will indeed be collected.

  The point I wish to make in this contribution to the committee stage consideration is that it is not fair just to fob the question off and say that it is not competent for the committee to question the Minister on this matter. It is not fair because this question is absolutely central to meeting the objectives of this Bill. If the right way of collecting this money is not implemented, to ensure that the levy is $1 per day per person—as I said, it is expensive to collect it bureaucratically and the administration of it is expensive—then the levy will not achieve its result.

  It is quite proper and appropriate that the Minister give to the committee a specific answer as to how these quite legitimate concerns expressed by Senator Macdonald are being dealt with. His concerns are expressed, I am sure, on behalf of his concerned constituents in the far north of Queensland with whom I know from personal experience he has a tremendous and active relationship; I am sure all other honourable senators would recognise that. I think it is unfair of the Minister to reflect on the motives of Senator Macdonald because she has failed to be briefed as properly as she should have been prior to coming into the chamber and has had to waste the time of the committee by leaning over advisers boxes getting briefed on the run.