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Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment
2 June 1998
Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill has called on the Democrats to withdraw their baseless allegations that mining will be allowed on or near the Great Barrier Reef.
The Democrats are deliberately misleading the people of Queensland on the issue with false claims.
The Government has repeatedly stated that mining will not be allowed on the Reef or in a region which could detrimentally affect the Reef.
But Democrat Senator Lyn Allison has persisted with her false claims on Queensland radio today saying:
"Publicly the Minister for the Environment is saying no, there won't be any drilling for oil on the Reef, but we know that behind the scenes the Australian Geological Survey Organisation is spending most of its budget looking for off-shore oil potential, and we know the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is being dismantled because of its concerns about both oil shale and oil drilling on the Reef." (ABC Radio)
The Australian Geological Survey Organisation (AGSO) advises that it has not conducted research in Northeast Australia since 1990, making a mockery of Senator Allison's claim.
It further advises that while it is investigating the petroleum potential of frontier areas of Australia's Marine Jurisdiction, this work will not include any areas in or adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
Senator Allison is also wrong to claim the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is being dismantled.
The Government has already given a commitment that GBRMPA will remain an independent statutory authority with responsibility for managing the marine park.
Senator Allison's claims have been exposed as baseless.
They amount to nothing more than a politically-motivated scare campaign to try to make the Democrats look remotely relevant on the eve of the Queensland election.
By making false claims about the role of AGSO and the future of GBRMPA, Senator Allison and the Democrats have forfeited any right to be taken seriously on this issue.
Media contact: Matt Brown on 026 277 7640 or 0419 693 515
June 2, 1998