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Wednesday, 9 October 1996
Page: 3779

Senator LEES —My question is to the Minister for the Environment. This follows the question I asked yesterday about whether you believed wilderness areas could be mined and logged without affecting their wilderness values. You said mining was inconsistent with these wilderness values. So I ask: if you do believe that mining is inconsistent with wilderness values and that, as you said, wilderness areas should be preserved, will you now use all federal powers available to you to ensure that there is no mining in wilderness areas? Will you also rule out forestry and road construction in wilderness areas and work actively to see these things do not go ahead?

Senator HILL —What I said yesterday is that I accept that wilderness is a conservation value that is important and should be preserved. I further said that I find it difficult to see how wilderness can be consistent with the activity of mining. I said that that was also the view of Senator Parer, who is as interested in preserving conservation values in this country as any other honourable senator.

In the case of forestry, wilderness assessments are taking place under the CRA process. It is our intention that wilderness areas be protected under the final regional forestry agreements as are negotiated between the Commonwealth and the states. It seems consistent with the view I have been putting to you, therefore, that mining in an area that has been preserved for its wilderness value would be inconsistent.

Senator LEES —Could I ask the minister about two specific areas: the D'Entrecasteaux National Park in Western Australia, where you do have the power to stop mining because you can simply refuse a mineral export licence, and in our home state of South Australia, the world's last remaining large area of undisturbed mallee wilderness—the Yumbarra Conservation Park, where the state government is now planning to allow mining exploration . Will you at least do all you can in your powers to stop both of those mining activities going ahead?

Senator HILL —The Western Australian one is being looked after by my very learned and able colleague—

Senator Robert Ray —Who is that?

Senator HILL —Senator Campbell. I am sure that he will do all in his power to preserve wilderness values in that particular park.

The national park that you are referring to in South Australia currently prohibits mining. Therefore, I do not quite see the point of your question unless, of course, you are concerned about the deliberations taking place in the South Australian parliament. There is an issue as to whether that park should operate under the same basis as most national parks in South Australia, and that is a multi-use park. I am not opposed to multi-use, provided that the other use is consistent with the conservation values that we are seeking to preserve. That seems to me to be sound policy. (Time expired)