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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 dismissed as baseless scaremongering claims by the Opposition and Democrats about mining on the Great Barrier Reef.
Senator Hill says the actions of Labor and the Democrats have been disgraceful.
"The Government has given repeated assurances that it will not allow mining on the Reef or in an area which could detrimentally affect the Reef.
"But despite this, the Democrats and the Labor Party are out there trying to scare the people of Queensland on an environmental issue of great importance to them.
"Despite getting an emphatic assurance from the Prime Minister that such mining is not on, the Labor spokesman has gone so far as suggesting the jobs of thousands of Queenslanders are at risk.
"He is prepared to scare the people of Queensland even though he knows there is no threat to the Reef or the tourism jobs it helps generate.
"Labor and the Democrats have no credibility on this issue. They know there is no threat but they are prepared to play on people's fears for their own short term political gain.
"The people of Queensland should remember this disgraceful behaviour when voting on June 13."
Senator Hill addressed this issue in the Senate more than 12 months ago. In response to a question from the Democrats, Senator Hill said
"That is the question: what activities are consistent with the environment values we are seeking to conserve? That is the test we apply. In relation to the Barrier Reef, we have decided that certain economic activities in a regulated way are consistent, such as fishing and tourism, but that mining is not." (Hansard 4/3/97)
In response to newspaper queries on Friday, the following response was given:
"We will not allow mining on the Great Barrier Reef and we will not allow mining in an area which could detrimentally affect the Reef."
The Prime Minister has re-stated this commitment in Question Time.
Media contact – Matt Brown 026 277 7640 or 0419 693 515