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Tuesday, 28 September 1993
Page: 1318


Senator BELL (9.37 p.m.) —On behalf of the Australian Democrats, I move:

Schedule, page 7, after proposed amendment to subsection 3B(4) of the World Heritage Properties Conservation Act 1983, add the following amendments:

"Sections 13A and 13B:

  After section 13, add:

Consents in respect of Exit Cave, Tasmania

  `13A. The Minister must not grant or refuse consent to a person or a servant or agent of a person pursuant to section 9, 10 or 11 to do a prescribed act or acts prohibited by section 10 and 11 in relation to the area known as Exit Cave, Tasmania, except in accordance with a resolution passed by each House of the Parliament approving the grant or refusal of consent, being a resolution passed in pursuance of a motion of which notice has been given not less than 5 sitting days of that House before the motion is moved.

Amendment or revocation of consent in respect of Exit Cave, Tasmania

  `13B. (1) Any amendment or revocation of the refusal of consent by the Minister under section 9 made on 14 September 1992 and published in Gazette No. S265 of 15 September 1992 shall not be made except in accordance with a resolution passed by each House of the Parliament approving the amendment or revocation of the refusal of consent, being a resolution passed in pursuance of a motion of which notice has been given not less than 5 sitting days of that House before the motion is moved.

  (2) Any amendment or repeal of regulation 3A of the World Heritage Properties Conservation Regulations shall not be made except in accordance with a resolution passed by each House of the Parliament approving the amendment or repeal, being a resolution passed in pursuance of a motion of which notice has been given not less than 5 sitting days of that House before the motion is moved.'.".

This amendment received considerable attention from coalition senators, notably Senator Watson. The purpose of it was to bring to the government the opportunity to place in legislation those actions which the Minister for the Environment, Sport and Territories (Mrs Kelly) had already taken with regard to Exit Cave.

  I would expect the government to support this amendment because of that very fact that the minister has taken action in this area. If that action was worth taking under ministerial directive, it is worth incorporating in legislation. If the action was not seriously taken by the minister, but, rather, she was forced into this situation, as I believe she was, then perhaps the government will back away. I believe the minister was forced into this position by the consistent and constant pressure applied not only by me on behalf of the Democrats but also by those who are concerned for the future of this World Heritage area in Tasmania.

  Without the action that the minister was obliged to take in defence of the World Heritage values of this area, those values would have been compromised. Having forced the minister to take this action, I believe the only responsible thing I can do is to press for the incorporation into the legislation of the action that the minister took. I will take the first opportunity to do that, and that opportunity presents itself here.