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Wednesday, 10 November 1976
Page: 2514

Mr MOORE (RYAN, QUEENSLAND) - Will the Prime Minister inform the House as to the decision of the Government on Fraser Island? Has the Queensland Government been informed of the decision and, if so, by whom and how? Is the Government prepared to look at alternative means of assistance to Maryborough and district as a result of loss of revenue to the area and increased unemployment?

Mr MALCOLM FRASER -The Government's position in relation to this matter will be made known later this afternoon or this evening by the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development. At the moment he is probably on the way back from Queensland because, with the Acting Minister for National

Resources, he visited the Premier this morning at about 12 o'clock to convey the details of the Commonwealth Government's decision in relation to these matters. That was done in accordance with an undertaking which I gave to the Premier when we met a few days ago to discuss the problems of Fraser Island. On more than one occasion I have referred to the difficulty involved in coming to a decision about this matter because there are legitimate interests in the conservation of the natural environment of Fraser Island. Also, there are legitimate interests about the employment and well-being of the people involved in the mining enterprise.

These matters obviously are very important to Maryborough and district. Nevertheless, despite the very real concern which the Commonwealth has for these latter aspects, we have felt impelled to adopt the report and the arguments in the report. The last paragraph on page 184 of that report, I think, cogently and in one paragraph expresses the reasons for the Commonwealth's action in that regard. The Ministers hope to establish arrangements with the Queensland Government which will enable the various programs conducted by the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations to be applied effectively and efficiently in the area. If special arrangements are necessary, they will be undertaken. In addition, we will be proposing that there be discussions between the appropriate Ministers concerning the development of the forestry industry around the Maryborough region and the further development of tourism, especially as it relates to Fraser Island and the long-term objectives which one might have for these areas. The report will be applied and export contracts will not be forthcoming after the end of this calendar year. At the same time, there needs to be close consultation and collaboration between the Queensland and Commonwealth governments to try to ameliorate the employment effects of that decision. The Commonwealth will be using all its good offices to try to achieve a worthwhile result in that respect.

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