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Monday, 20 December 1993
Page: 5255

Senator BISHOP (2.16 p.m.) —What a pity the minister did not answer the question I asked. I will restate my question to the minister, and perhaps I will explain the legislation to him so that he can understand it. This part of the bill, as I said right at the beginning, describes the types of acts that have to go through a tribunal—the one we are yet to get. I will wait until the minister finishes getting his advice so that he can listen to the question, because he did not answer the question I asked before.

Senator Gareth Evans —I have good antennae for something substantive. Senator Bishop was not saying anything substantive. I will listen when she does.

Senator BISHOP —The minister sounds like a broken record and what he says is about as interesting and as relevant. I will wait until the minister can listen to the question, because he did not understand before, the poor chap. I will ask the question again. As I said to the minister earlier, the purpose of this subdivision of the act is to describe the types of acts that have to go through a tribunal—the one we do not have yet. It then describes the creation of a right to mine, whether by the grant of a mining lease or otherwise, as being one of those types of acts. We then go to the definitional section and we see that the definition of `mine', about which a right would be created, includes exploration. It includes acts to `explore or prospect for things that may be mined', as I explained to the minister. I then explained to the minister his own amendment, which specifically defined `exploration' so that aerial exploration is included. I then put to the minister the question, not whether or not a permit to mine was required—is the minister ready for the question again?

Senator Gareth Evans —I have been ready for the last 22 hours for Senator Bishop to ask me a substantive question and I have not heard one yet.

Senator BISHOP —That is because the minister is deaf when it comes to listening to things that matter. Try again; concentrate this time. I said that I was not asking the minister about a permit to mine or to explore; I was asking him about the Civil Aviation Authority creating a regulation which required that a flight plan be registered for any aircraft engaging in aerial exploration. That is something not covered by this act, and I am sure the minister can understand that. I then asked the minister—we have to wait for him again.

Senator Gareth Evans —With respect, I have been sitting here for 22 hours. I have been dealing with many questions that have been put to me by many people around the chamber. While I am listening to the question, I am also often taking advice. I am perfectly capable of doing both things simultaneously and it is not necessary for Senator Bishop to break off and posture every time I lean across the aisle. That is the nature of the exercise. I can do without Senator Bishop doing that. Senator Bishop will get her answer once she asks an intelligible question. I am still waiting to hear it. If Senator Bishop is putting together the building blocks for a question and is not just repeating what she said earlier, I am listening.

Senator BISHOP —Mr Temporary Chairman, is he speaking to a point of order?

  The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Calvert)—Senator Bishop, you should continue with your questioning, and when that is completed it is up to the minister to give an answer.

Senator BISHOP —I think he jumped to his feet in the middle of a question; he does have difficulty following.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN —The minister may answer in any way he chooses.

Senator BISHOP —Thank you. The point is, as the minister pointed out, he has been here for many hours coping with a bad brief. He does not understand the legislation; he has demonstrated that quite well. At an opportune time I will go through several pages where his answers to questions have just been plain ill-informed and wrong. Therefore I want to get this point right.

  I am not talking about a permit to explore or a permit to mine; I am asking about another regulation—for instance, the example I just gave of the Civil Aviation Authority. Does the registration of that flight plan constitute a creation of a right to mine—yes or no?