“Queensland Environment Minister Stephen Robertson must explain why a document he gave to The Wilderness Society and a mining company is cabinet-in-confidence to everyone else, especially local indigenous people,” said The Nationals’ Senator Ron Boswell today.
“There is obviously one rule for The Wilderness Society and another for local indigenous communities who will be directly affected by the wild river declaration and Cape Alumina’s bauxite mining plans.”
“The Wilderness Society is a private lobby group. It is not elected or accountable to Queenslanders. There is no case for it to get special privileges when it comes to cabinet-in-confidence documents.”
“Who runs the Qld cabinet – is it the Premier or The Wilderness Society?”
“Labor lets The Wilderness Society have its own way on closing up vast areas of land, rivers and oceans to legitimate, environmentally sustainable activities such as farming, forestry, tourism and fishing”.
“Labor lets The Wilderness Society call the shots in all these areas in order to glean green preferences. They are sacrificing huge areas of Qld, particularly in the north, in order to win suburban seats in the south.”
“The fact that the Qld Minister gave The Wilderness Society a cabinet-in-confidence document demonstrates the hold The Wilderness Society has over the Bligh administration. Why not just give them a chair in cabinet and stop the pretence?”
“The relationship between the Bligh government and The Wilderness Society cannot be condoned in a democracy where governments are accountable to the voters.”
Senator Boswell said that the cabinet document being withheld from indigenous groups was Environmental Hydrology Associates Pty Ltd, “Review of Submissions relating to the hydrology and ecosystems functions of ‘bauxite Springs on and in the vicinity of Bertiehaugh Station, Cape York Peninsula: Interim report after initial field inspections”, report prepared for Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM), 4 December 2009.
This report was commissioned by the Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) to provide an independent analysis of various public submissions made to the Government concerning the proposed Wenlock Basin wild river area and to specifically assess hydrological aspects of the proposed declaration.
“Cape Alumina say in their submission to the Senate Committee on Wild Rivers that this report stated that ‘the data to hand at the time of preparation of this report is largely supportive of the hydro‐geological scheme proposed by [Cape Alumina]’.”
Senator Boswell said that if the Wilderness Society was allowed a copy then the local indigenous people certainly should also receive a copy. “What is going on here – some kind of government document apartheid?”ENDS