On the Democrats support for the Greens motion to debate the legislation on regional forests agreements.

Senator BARTLETT (Queensland) (9.48 a.m.)–In relation to this motion and the question before the chamber of its urgency and the need to suspend standing orders to be able to debate it and vote on it, from the Democrats' point of view it is clearly a motion that deserves the support of the chamber. Senator O'Brien said that it is a simplistic motion. It is not simplistic; it is simple. It is very simple, it is very straightforward, it is very clear and it is very positive. For that reason it is probably unfortunate that formality was denied on the issue.

The Democrats believe that the issue of forests is an important one, as was indicated in the debate yesterday, that needs to be brought to the attention of the Australian public. It is good to see WA leading the way in highlighting public awareness about the threat to our native forests. We are always keen to encourage and express support for state governments when they are doing the right thing, when they are highlighting threats to our environment in particular, and especially when it comes from parties such as the National Party. It is a bit of a surprise that National Party colleagues are not in here at the moment to assist in congratulating their colleague. I am sure they all do that privately but it would be a great opportunity for them to express it publicly.

So the Democrats, without wanting to take up an excessive amount of time in the chamber–because we do recognise that there are a lot of other important matters, which is why it is unfortunate that formality was denied–believe that it is an important matter on a number of levels. The overall issue of the protection of our forests in Western Australia and elsewhere is one that the Senate and the parliament should express support for as often as possible in the Democrats' view. For that reason we support the motion.

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