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Senator Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment

Media Release

'Cheryl Who?' Stumbles on to World Stage

16 July 1996

Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill has attacked Democrats leader Cheryl Kernot saying she had embarrassed herself and her party with an inept foray into international affairs over greenhouse emissions.

Senator Hill says a letter by Senator Kernot to the President of the Second Conference of the Parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change is an extraordinary display of political arrogance.

Senator Hill says the letter is the usual concoction of distortions and bald faced lies that Australians have come to expect from the Democrats.

"In Australia we are used to these childish media stunts which flow from Senator Kernot's office. We have learnt to tolerate and even ignore them.

"But why would Senator Kernot want to inflict this nonsense on the internationalcommunity.

"It is unprecedented act for the leader of a fringe political group to seek to embarrass the majority elected government in an international forum in a shameless bid for domestic publicity.

"Fortunately for Australia we would expect that the response from the international community will be 'Cheryl who?'."

Senator Hill says the Kernot letter is littered with deliberately misleading statements.

"Senator Kernot says our greenhouse emissions 'are rapidly increasing.' Wrong. Before leaving Australia I released our National Greenhouse Gases Inventory which showed our emissions increased by just 0.6% per annum over 1990-1994.

"In typical Kernot fashion it is a case of 'don't let the facts get in the way of a good media stunt.'

"Senator Kernot's tactics are also transparent. Why send a letter to a non-government organisation for distribution? Good international politics or simply a tacky bid for media exposure?

"Senator Kernot also cries crocodile tears over clearance of native vegetation. She is right to say that Australia clears far more natural vegetation than is being replaced by tree planting.

"But it is a blatant lie to say the government 'allows' this situation.

'We recognise the problem and want to spend $318 million on a National Vegetation Initiative so that for the first time in the history of white settlement in Australia we will be planting more vegetation than we clear.

"Who is it that is blocking the funding for that initiative? Cheryl Kernot and her band of Democrat eco-vandals.

"Once again it is 'all talk, no action' from the Democrats on serious environmental concerns.

"I continue to say to Senator Kernot that if you are really serious about this and other environmental issues come on board and allow us to set up our $1 billion Natural Heritage Trust."

Senator Hill has also attached opposition Environment spokesperson Carrnen Lawrence who is reported to have supported the Democrat move.

"I won't be too harsh on Dr Lawrence. I understand she does have some problem with her memory.

"I'd just remind her of the position the former Labor Government took to last year's Berlin negotiations.

"I would call on Opposition Leader Kim Beazley to check the reports and, if they are correct, bring Dr Lawrence into line for supporting an attempt to undermine and embarrass Australia in an international forum.'

For further comment contact Senator Hill's office on 06 277 7640.

Commonwealth of Australia