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Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment
11 November 1997
Environment Minister Robert Hill has described as nonsense claims that reforms to Commonwealth environment laws are being kept "behind closed doors".
Senator Hill says the claims by the Australian Conservation Foundation are so inaccurate they are embarrassing.
"The ACF has called on the Commonwealth to 'demonstrate the transparency of the reform process'.
"What the ACF don't mention is that a consultation paper was released and that they, along with other key environmental and industry groups, were invited to make submissions on the COAG Review.
"Perhaps the ACF have forgotten that they actually did make a submission through the Environmental Defender's Office in February of this year.
"This submission was also made on behalf of the National Network of Environmental Defenders' Offices, the Humane Society International and the World Wide Fund for Nature. The submission also carried the endorsement of the Conservation Council of SA, the Queensland Conservation Council and the Tasmanian Conservation Trust.
"The ACF also met with members of the COAG officials group working on the review.
"The final position to be put to COAG was discussed by myself with conservation groups at the recent National Environment Consultative Forum in Canberra. The ACF attended these meetings.
"The ACF quotes from my media release of November 7. This same media release clearly states that proposed reforms to Commonwealth environment laws flowing from the review will be the subject of a public discussion paper.
"On the basis of all this evidence, the statement by the ACF that the review is being done `behind closed doors' is both stupid and ignorant.
"The ACF says the review `deserves extensive and well-informed involvement of the general community'. I agree and that is what we have been doing and will continue to do.
"However on current form, the term `well-informed involvement' would seem to preclude the ACF."
Contact - Matt Brown 02 6277 7640 or 0419 693 515
November 11, 1997