Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Monday, 13 October 2008
Page: 5753

Senator IAN MACDONALD (2:22 PM) —My question is to Senator Faulkner, apparently filling in for the never-present Senator Wong, representing the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts. Does the minister recall that at question time on 20 March this year I asked the environment minister if the federal government was going to prosecute the Queensland government for breach of EPBC Act conditions on the Paradise Dam on the Burdekin River essential to save the critically endangered lungfish? Does the minister recall that the then minister refused to answer the question? Is the minister aware that, because the federal government has abrogated its duty to take court action, an NGO has been forced to take civil action in the Federal Court to enforce Commonwealth government environmental conditions? When will the federal government discharge its duty and uphold the conditions imposed on the Queensland government to save these endangered species—or is the current federal Labor government not prepared to take on its Queensland Labor government mates?

Senator FAULKNER (Special Minister of State and Cabinet Secretary) —I can indicate to Senator Macdonald through you, Mr President, that I do not have great recall of the questions he may have asked Senator Wong, representing the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts, in March of this year. I can also indicate, through you, to Senator Macdonald that, in the information that has been provided to me by the office of the minister for the environment, I do not actually have a brief on that particular matter. My understanding, of course, was that this was not the Burdekin River but—

Senator Ian Macdonald —The Burnett.

Senator FAULKNER —the Burnett River. I thought, Senator, that you said the Burdekin River. But, Senator, we both know that it is the Burnett River. All I can do in this circumstance is ask Mr Garrett to provide me with information in response to the issues that you have raised. I will certainly do that as a matter of urgency and, at the earliest opportunity, I will provide that to you.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Minister, are you telling me that the government is not aware that an NGO has to take civil action to enforce conditions that your government should be enforcing? Minister, how many more Labor members of parliament will have to defect from the ALP before the Labor government realises that the Traveston Crossing Dam, on the Mary River, is an environmental and planning disaster and refuses approval? How many more Labor MPs will have to defect before the Labor Party actually reverses its anti-environmental approach to government? When will the federal minister show some courage and refuse the application by the Queensland government for approval to construct the Traveston Crossing Dam, which has the same sort of environmental problems that the Paradise Dam has on the Burnett River?

Senator FAULKNER (Special Minister of State and Cabinet Secretary) —I can say to Senator Macdonald that, no, I am not saying those things to him. What I have indicated to Senator Macdonald is that, in relation to the substantive issue he raises about the process regarding the EPBC Act and the future of the dam, I will certainly provide that information for him.