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Christine Milne: Will Abbott uphold the World Heritage Committee decision?

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Christine Milne 24 Jun 2014

The Australian Greens Leader, Senator Christine Milne, uses Question Time to ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister about the World Heritage Committee decision the previous evening to uphold Tasmania's Wilderness World Heritage boundaries.


Senator MILNE (Tasmania-Leader of the Australian Greens) (14:17): My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Abetz, and refers to the World Heritage Committee decision last night, which described Australia's bid as feeble and an unacceptable precedent. Does the government now commit to unreservedly accepting the World Heritage Committee decision and reject any proposal for logging of any kind in the area, and will it rule out any new bid to reduce the boundaries?

Senator ABETZ (Tasmania-Leader of the Government in the Senate, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and Minister for Employment) (14:18): We will accept this decision as unreservedly as the Greens and the green groups accept the decisions of court cases. The Leader of the Australian Greens might like to reflect on that-like when her former leader, Senator Brown, lost the Federal Court appeal in relation to Wielangta. I remember the hissy fit-

Senator Milne: Mr President, I rise on a point of order on relevance. Senator Abetz is attempting to distract from his embarrassment with irrelevant information.

The PRESIDENT: There is no point of order at this stage.

Senator ABETZ: Mr President, I was seeking to point out to the Australian Greens that we might adopt their approach of accepting these sorts of decisions and determinations. Of course if we were to accept the Greens approach on this, we would be holding demonstrations and doing all sorts of things in contradiction of the decision that has been made. Having not read every single word of the decision, I am not prepared at this stage to say that we unreservedly accept everything in it-but we are responsible world citizens and we will acknowledge and accept the decision and abide by it. However, one can still be critical of the decision as not necessarily reflecting all the objective evidence, the overwhelming majority of which relates to areas of pine plantations, eucalypt plantations, roads, electricity grid wires and old quarries-apparently, now, all somehow World Heritage. That is the determination that has been made, and so be it. Unlike the Australian Greens, we will respect the arbiter in this matter, and that is the big product differentiation between the Australian Greens and this government.


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