Tuesday, 24 August 2021
Environment and Communications References Committee; Report
Senator Watt seems to be pathologically obsessed by Minister Taylor. In fact, he spoke about Minister Taylor and about Minister Taylor's trip to the Northern Territory for quite some time and he cast aspersions about Minister Taylor's involvement. I would just like to point out to Senator Watt that he has the wrong minister, because Minister Taylor is not responsible for this program. In fact, Minister Taylor has absolutely nothing to do with this program. This program is administered by Minister Pitt—two completely different ministers, two different parties, in fact—and it is, in fact, Minister Pitt who has carriage and he is the sole decision-maker of this program.
Minister Pitt was not even there. In fact, he's never been to the Beetaloo. I would love and I extend the invitation for him to come, but he's not even been there, so I don't know why Senator Watt is so obsessed by Minister Taylor and why he is trying to draw him in to what should be a factual report of evidence given by credible witnesses. In fact, he is using the opportunity to try to draw in a minister who is not involved in the instrument that this inquiry was about. Senator Watt, I don't know what your obsession is—I really don't—but you have definitely got the wrong minister. If you want to talk about any ministerial involvement in this program then you need to talk about Minister Pitt, not Minister Taylor. In case you need help: they do look quite different, they are from two different parties and they do look after different areas of ministerial responsibility. If Senator Watt and the Labor Party are going to try to incriminate any ministers in any of this program, I suggest they at least get the correct minister.
As I said, coalition senators have a dissenting report, which we believe displays the factual evidence that was presented by credible witnesses. I ask the Senate to please take our report into consideration and to discredit some of the evidence given by Labor that implicates the wrong minister. Our recommendations in this report are quite easy. There are two recommendations. The first one is that the NT government complete its implementation of the Pepper review in a timely manner. That is something that came out as part of the evidence. Many witnesses gave evidence that the issues they had were because the NT government had not implemented the recommendations of the Pepper review, as it was meant to. The other recommendation we have is that the Beetaloo Cooperative Drilling Program proceed. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.