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CLOSING ADDRESS TO AUSTRALIAN YOUTH PARLIAMENT FOR THE ENVIRONMENT


PARLIAMENT HOUSE CANBERRA
5TH SEPTEMBER 1997

Senator the Hon Ian Macdonald
Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministers
for the Environment, Sport, Territories
and Local Government

Thanks Claire and members of this Youth Parliament. Can I thank you for your resolutions and your determinations. They are certainly things that the Government will very closely look at and perhaps, I'll speak to the organisers about this, but perhaps say in about three to six months, the Government could write to each one of you, either individually if you wanted to give me the names and addresses or alternatively we could provide 55, I think it is, separate letters that your organisation could send out to all of you to indicate the Government's response to the suggestions you have made so that each one of you individually will know how the Government is treating them.

And that's how Parliament works. When we have recommendations from a Committee, the Government considers those recommendations and makes a response in the Parliament. But as you are not going to be here in six months time we'll do the next best thing, subject to agreement with the organisers, and write to you all individually. Okay, so that's agreed.

I hope you've enjoyed it, I have been listening in the gallery and some of my staff have been with you over the last couple of days. I think you have perhaps realised that governing is a very complex matter, making decisions is a very complex matter and you have to consider not only what you perceive as being the correct thing but then how you initiate it and how you initiate it in a democracy where you have elections every three years. And everything costs money, you've always got to understand that. Governments themselves don't have money, we only use your money and there is only a certain amount of money that, in a democracy, people are prepared to pay.

I noticed while I was sitting up there and heard you talking about things that someone said something like "if you don't come on board, it's a long way to walk home to Melbourne" - I didn't see who it was - but that's not quite how we do it in Parliament. However, it's typical of the fact that there are lots of different views, that people use arguments, sometimes threats, sometimes other inducements to get across a particular point of view.

I'm sure from what you've done here, you'll go away with a far better appreciation of how things work and how decisions are made.

From sitting up there I'm confident you've all personally learnt a lot and that it has been great for yourselves. You are all interacting much better and a lot more confidently than when I saw you two short days ago. I bet for you people it seems like it was two weeks ago - you have crammed so much into this forum.

But I understand you have some other tidying up to do, unfortunately I have to leave, I have to go to Sydney tonight, interestingly to make a speech to the Humane Society, which is a group concerned about Endangered Species amongst other things and tonight I'll be announcing, on behalf of Senator Hill, some new initiatives for endangered species. I can't disclose that just now, two hours in front of an official announcement. But I think you might hear about it, it's to do with an endangered marine species that is right around the Australian coast. It's not mermaids but relates to something like mermaids and we'll be announcing an initiative tonight, a new initiative, it has never happened before in Australia. Australia is the first country in the world where we will be restricting the use of this endangered species. And that certainly fits in with one of your recommendations.

So again thanks very much for the advice you've given us and for the resolutions you've put to us and thank you all for directing your minds to issues which are of great importance to the people of Australia and accordingly to the Parliament of Australia. I hear some of the suggestions you are making to what this Youth Parliament for the Environment might do next year and if the is any way we can help to facilitate those things, then I know we'd be only too pleased to do so. Within reason, of course!

I know that you've got a few more things to do but it was suggested to me that I should formally close your Conference, but I won't actually do that, I'll do in typical parliamentary style what the Speaker in the House of Representatives or the President of the Senate does when we finish a session. I'll terminate the official part by saying this Youth Parliament for the Environment now stands adjourned until this time next year.

Commonwealth of Australia