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Thursday, 6 October 1983
Page: 1438


Mr LINDSAY(12.20) —I will make a few observations on the Department of Home Affairs and Environment and later, if time permits, on tourism. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has its headquarters at Townsvillle. Its principal task is the control, care and development of the Great Barrier Reef region. The Authority was established in 1975. From that time unitl March 1983 only 14 per cent of the Great Barrier Reef region was included in the Marine Park. In August 1983 three further sections of the Marine Park were proclaimed resulting in an increase of some 80 per cent, or a total of 280,000 square kilometres in the Great Barrier Reef Marine park. The areas included the far northern area and off-shore parts of the central and southern areas of the region in the Marine Park.

To have the entire Great Barrier Reef included in the Marine Park as soon as possible is a high priority of the Hawke Government. However, this Government will not unnecessarily interfere in the responsibilities of the State and local government authorities. The Authority will not become involved in activities such as jetties, coastal structures and minor waste-discharges. These are the responsibility of either State or local government. Co-operation and common sense are Hawke Government qualities and they will be extended to State and local governments. It should be noted that from 1 September 1983, regulations were introduced which prohibit oil drilling in parts of the region not yet included in the Marine Park. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act prohibits oil drilling in the Marine Park. The Hawke Government-an authentic Australian government-recognises the national importance of the work of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. To that end, total expenditures by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority are estimated at almost $5m this year, up from just under $3m actual expenditure last year. These amounts include contributions from Queensland for day-to-day management, cash carried forward, and capital works and services.

Actual appropriation under Division 343 is $3,665,000, an increase of 38.5 per cent from last year. It will be recalled that the first section of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park-the Capricornia section-was proclaimed in October 1979 and the zoning plan for that section and the regulations which implement the plan, came into effect in July 1981. The second and third sections, the Cormorant Pass and Cairns, were proclaimed on 21 October 1981 and the 19 November 1981 respectively. The zoning plans for these sections were tabled in Parliament on 25 May 1983 and are expected to come into effect later this year. The Hawke Government has declared the Far Northern Off-shore Central and Off- shore Southern sections of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park which, as I have said, brings the proportion of the total region within the Marine Park up to 80 per cent. The Authority has been directed by the Federal Government to provide reports on the remaining in-shore areas of the region not later than last month.

With reference to estimates for Authority programs as set out in table 14 of Budget Paper No. 5, there are small increases for administration of the Authority and the Great Barrier Reef Consultative Committee. The increase in general administration for the office of the Authority reflects an increase in full time staffing levels from 38 in 1981-82 to 44 in 1982-83, and 52 for this year. The salaries and allowances item shows an increase from just over $1m to just under $1.5m, an increase of 30 per cent. The item for park management shows the largest individual increase in the Authority's estimates which reflects the expected additional management responsibilities. Recurrent costs for the management of the Park are shared 50-50 by the Queensland Government and the Federal Government, with 100 per cent of the capital works and services item being supplied by the Commonwealth in the first three years of the program for each new section. Total expenditure in this area for 1983-84 is estimated to be just under $2m which includes salaries and allowances.

One item that has changed between this year and last year is the reallocation of expenditure of the coastal surveillance program for the Great Barrier Reef to the general Department of Home Affairs and Environment expenditure item. Costs of the coastal surveillance program are shared among the departments of Home Affairs and Environment, Primary Industry and Transport in the ratio of 50 per cent, 22.5 per cent and 27.5 per cent. This reflects a decision that more benefits are gained from this surveillance operation than those that accrue to the Marine Park alone. Last year expenditure was $467,393. This year the estimate of expenditure is $444,000, a variation of 5 per cent. This operation is the subject of a comprehensive review of needs and extent of coastal surveillance protection in peace-time. The review team's report to the Minister for Aviation (Mr Beazley) is expected to be available during the current Budget session.

Increases in recurrent costs for park management reflect the proposed appointment of additional marine parks officers to the Queensland National Parks and Wildlife Service for both the Capricornia section and the Cairns and Cormorant pass sections. The estimate for the latter sections provides for the staggered recruitment, some travel costs, hire for vessel and aircraft, office rental and other administrative costs necessary to establish the day-to-day management program.

Another area which shows an apparent large increase in expenditure is that of planning. A large part of this is the reallocation of $100,000 to this item for the statutory public participation programs which were previously located under the education-information program item. These programs are managed co- operatively by two sections. The costs provide for the design and production of explanatory materials, displays, media presentations and hire of venues for public meetings. It is expected in this year that there will be two public participation programs. One has already been announced for the far northern section. One has yet to be announced for one of the remaining sections.

The education-information program shows a minor increase in funds, although there has in fact been a significant increase of expenditure proposed in most areas of this program. In particular, some $20,000 has been added to the community education program, while formal education systems have gone up slightly and extension programs to user groups in the region have also been increased.

Research includes four projects in ocean- ography. There are five projects in marine geo- sciences which include work on processes of maintenance of coral cays such as Heron, Wilson and Green Islands. There are six projects in bathymetry and survey which involve the use of satellites and other traditional methods of survey and twenty-five research projects in marine biology which include research into recolonization of coral and methods of farming coral. There will be 19 research projects in analysis and use; for example, fishing industry economics. There is one research project in management strategies, two in data-bases and two on the mechanics and processes of information transfer.

The Marine Park Authority has placed considerable emphasis on education and information as it appreciates that an area of this size cannot effectively be policed, at a reasonable cost, 100 per cent of the time. The Authority has, therefore, determined that an emphasis will be placed on education and on information materials to enable the public to participate in, and to understand the need for, management programs.

Budget provisions for research and monitoring costs will increase some 35 per cent from $485,000 to $655,000. In the current year by and large research work is carried on by contracts and agreements with other institutions, such as James Cook University of North Queensland, the Australian Institute of Marine Science and Universities in Brisbane and Sydney. With the accelerated declaration program, major resource surveys of fish and coral needs of the new sections are required. Also, with the management of new marine park sections coming into effect, research can provide guidelines on the management of specific activities , for example, erosion and maintenance of reefs and cays, development of guidelines for fishing for specific fisheries, methods for the re-establishment of hard corals in denuded reef environments, marine park users and attitudinal surveys, impact of garbage and waste disposal and for monitoring of these activities.

The program announced in the Federal Budget with respect to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority encompasses a package which fully recognises the Hawke Government's commitment to the preservation, protection and development of the Great Barrier Reef-this unique, natural, internationally acclaimed wonder of the world. Indeed, as I said earlier, it is the first time that a Federal government has taken to task the issue of the development and protection of the Great Barrier Reef. I see that the Minister for Science and Technology (Mr Barry Jones) is in the House today. I know of his great concern with respect to the Australian Institute of Marine Science which is also involved with investigation and scientific research work with respect to coral reefs and mangroves along the Queensland coast.


Mr Barry Jones —In the electorate of Herbert, too.


Mr LINDSAY —Thank you. In the one or two minutes left I would like to make just one brief observation with respect to tourism. Honourable members will notice that in the Estimates there has been a major increase of $7.5m with respect to the Budget allocation to the Australian Tourist Commission. This is a magnificent achievement of the Hawke Government. I also pay tribute to the Minister for Sport, Recreation and Tourism (Mr John Brown) and his commitment to the development of tourism, particularly in the wet belt of northern Australia.


The CHAIRMAN —Order! The honourable member's time has expired.