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Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment
11 September 1996
Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill has delivered on his commitment to a transparent and open process for assessing the application for further works at the Port Hinchinbrook development.
Senator Hill has tabled key documents relating to the assessment process followed prior to the decision to approve certain works on the Port Hinchinbrook development.
The documents cover scientific advice given to the Minister, advice from his Department and portfolio agencies, and the application and supporting documents from the developer.
Senator Hill has emphasised that his decision was based on the best available scientific evidence.
The Commonwealth has ensured that wood heritage values will be protected by secudng a legally enforceable deed of agreement involving the developer, the Queensland Government and the local shire to ensure that any work undertaken meets best practice engineering standards.
World heritage values will also be protected by the development of a regional plan for the Hinchinbrook area. The plan will provide for the protection of dugong, regulation of boat traffic, and the preservation of wilderness qualities of the Hinchinbrook area.
The agreement on the development of a regional plan is a major achievement. The Commonwealth will be in a position to implement a comprehensive management regime designed to protect world heritage values in the region, and so prevent conflicts over land use rather than responding in an ad hoc and belated fashion in the way the previous government did.
I wish to emphasise the Commonwealth's commitment to the regional planning process. We understand the Queensland government shares our commitment to this process. The Commonwealth, however, has particular responsibility for protection of world heritage values. Accordingly, if for any reason the regional planning process does not deliver the required protection for world heritage values, then I will use all powers available to me to protect world heritage values in the Hinchinbrook area, including those values in the Hinchinbrook Channel and on Hinchinbrook Island.
A copy of Senator Hill's statement to the Senate is attached.