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Wednesday, 11 September 1996
Page: 3268

Senator KERNOT —My question is addressed to the Minister for the Environment. Minister, have you received correspondence from the Queensland National Party Minister for the Environment and Heritage suggesting that the Wet Tropics Management Authority be dismantled and that management of the World Heritage listed wet tropics be brought under the control of the state Department of Environment and Heritage? Are you aware that the Queensland National Party strenuously opposed the listing of this unique area? Would you support such a request for state management if it were made?

Senator HILL —I thought you were going to ask me about the appointment of the chairman of the authority, Senator Kernot. Is that the supplementary? I was going to take this opportunity to say to you that I hope to be able to announce the chairman soon. That, of course, has to be jointly agreed by me and Minister Littleproud. It has taken a little while longer than I would have expected, but I understand that in the case of my predecessor it took him and his colleague from Queensland two years and in the end they had to appoint an arbiter to help them decide. That announcement will be made in the near future, and I am sure you will applaud it, Senator Kernot.

There is also, as you are aware, a reduction in funding for WTMA, and we are going to have to look at the rationalisation of some of its functions consistent with maintaining the conservation values for which it exists. The questions that result from that in terms of administration will have to be settled between me and the Queensland minister.

Senator Kernot —Does that mean you are not considering dismantling it?

Senator HILL —If you are asking me if I have any plans to transfer total responsibility to the Queensland government, the answer is no.

Senator KERNOT —Madam President, I ask a supplementary question. Minister, will the person who is appointed to head the authority be a reputable conservationist?

Senator HILL —The appointment will be a reputable Australian.

Senator Carr —Not a conservationist?

Senator HILL —We are all conservationists, are we not? I do not know about Senator Carr, but most of us would claim to be conservationists. It will be a reputable Australian. I am sure it will be an appointment that you will applaud.