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Tuesday, 3 May 1994
Page: 7

Senator REYNOLDS —The Minister for the Environment, Sport and Territories would be aware that the Queensland Premier recently announced that his government would develop a detailed plan for the future ownership and management of the Starcke land holdings. But Mr Goss has said that his excellent initiative was partly conditional on the federal government matching Queensland funding of $2 million for acquisition of the property, based on the Queensland government's valuation of $4.25 million. Can the minister advise the Senate whether the federal government will be supporting this initiative to fund Starcke?

Senator FAULKNER —I am delighted to inform the Senate that my department will contribute $1 million towards the acquisition of Starcke. In fact, just this morning I signed a letter to Premier Goss outlining my intention in this matter. When combined with a further $1 million to be provided by ATSIC, the federal government contribution will match the Queensland government funding, making purchase of the property possible.

  For those in the Senate who do not know of Starcke, it is a 220,000-hectare property with a coastline that stretches over about 140 kilometres of Cape York. The property has exceptional conservation and wilderness values and represents one of the most diverse ecosystems on Cape York. It is also an extremely precious piece of land, of course, to the traditional owners there. Indeed, I think that Starcke should be held up to the whole of Australia as a landmark example of how state and federal governments can work in cooperation with traditional owners and conservationists.

  When the Commonwealth first considered the Starcke acquisition, we said that any contribution of Commonwealth funds would be conditional upon the agreement of and approval by traditional owners, as well as the protection of conservation values. Our conditions have been met, and we are delighted to participate in this acquisition.

  I have made it clear to Premier Goss that the Commonwealth funding is conditional upon the Queensland government providing adequate safeguards which protect both environmental and Aboriginal interests. I am determined that there will not be any adverse environmental impacts arising out of mining projects in Starcke's resource reserve. Commonwealth involvement in Starcke will ensure that protection of one of the largest coastal wilderness areas on the east coast of Australia is preserved. This is an agreement which has satisfied the Queensland government, the traditional owners, the conservation movement and also, of course, the Commonwealth. I think that is something that many would have thought was impossible.