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Thursday, 19 August 1993
Page: 350


Senator CAMPBELL (4.07 p.m.) —I was a member of the Senate Standing Committee on Environment. Recreation and the Arts; I am not sure whether I still am. The opposition is extremely disappointed by the government's response. In fact I saw the interim response listed this morning. When the opposition whip, Senator Reid, handed me the interim response in a three paragraph letter—indeed, it is a `Dear John' letter—from the minister, it basically said that the government has been too busy because of the election, which it did not expect to win, to prepare a response. I think it is interesting for the Senate to note—


Senator Sherry —Is that the only consolation you can draw?


Senator CAMPBELL —It is tough; it has been a depressing first half of the year. It is interesting to draw a comparison with the report on DFAT which was tabled here in December 1992. That is a very complex report which goes into all of the complex issues in relation to the operations and management of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. We have a detailed response, even though not a good response, here in August 1993 from the department. I am sure the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is at least as busy as the departments and the ministers responsible for this very important report on the Australian environment and tourism. This report was tabled many months before the report on DFAT, yet here we are with a letter from the minister, Michael Lee, saying that he hopes the government might get some sort of response together before we go home for Christmas. I think that is most unsatisfactory.

  Senator Devereux has quite properly pointed out to the Senate the issues of the impact of tourism on the very delicate coastal environment of Australia. This is a crucial issue for Australia, not only from a development point of view and a job creation point of view but, equally importantly, from the view of trying to protect this very fragile environment and trying to find the right mix between federal government control of this area, proper state government sovereignty and control over land use, and the very important role of local government in these planning issues. These matters are absolutely vital. The minister and the government should stand condemned for being so tardy in their response to an excellent majority report and, might I say very humbly, a most excellent minority report.

  Question resolved in the affirmative.