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Democrats accuse Minister Hill of cavalier attitude to environment.

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Media Release


John Woodley and Andrew Bartlett

Australian Democrats

Senators for Queensland


25 May 1998




Democrats accuse Minister Hill of

cavalier attitude to environment


The Democrats have accused Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill of a cavalier attitude to the environment, following new revelations of Federal Government decisions that place a World Heritage area and an endangered species at risk.


Democrats’ Queensland Senator, John Woodley, said the Minister had been embarrassed by revelations on ABC-TV’s QUANTUM program that he had intervened to water down dugong protection sanctuaries after heavy pressure from the commercial fishing industry.


Senator Woodley said dugong specialists had raised concerns that the reduction in size of the sanctuaries jeopardised the chances of dugong numbers recovering from a 50 per cent decline in recent years.


“The Democrats are concerned that the Minister for the Environment reduced the size of the dugong sanctuaries against the best scientific advice,” Senator Woodley said.


“This decision comes on top of the Federal Government’s failure to protect the World Heritage Hinchinbrook Channel from the effects of the Port Hinchinbrook development.


The Democrats asked the Minister to provide the scientific advice supporting his decision to reduce dugong sanctuaries and expand commercial fishing grounds.


But Minister Hill avoided the question, claiming it was important to have the fishing industry on side with dugong protection.


Meantime, the Democrats also raised concerns that funding for acid sulphate soil research had been drastically cut by the Federal Government .


Democrats’ Queensland Senator, Andrew Bartlett, asked the Minister in the Senate today about revelations that funding for the CSIRO coastal zone projects had been axed.


“The acid sulphate soils issue has caused major problems at Port Hinchinbrook and Trinity Inlet in Cairns. It is an environmental time bomb just waiting to go off on coastlines around Australia,” Senator Bartlett said.


Minister Hill claimed that acid sulphate soil research had not been totally cut. Senator Bartlett asked the Minister to table the latest overall funding figures for acid sulphate soil research to establish whether total funding had been decreased or increased.


Contact: Senator Woodley: 02 6277 3728 or 0419 025 150 or

Senator Bartlett on 02 6277 3406 or Vivienne Wynter: 0419 029 728