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Wednesday, 30 May 1984
Page: 2186


Senator KILGARIFF(6.59) —As I was unable to ask a question at Question Time today I would like to take the time of the Senate for a couple of minutes. The Senate would be aware that in the last few days there has been a further incident in the Northern Territory where an international film expedition has been unable to carry out its filming. This incident occurred at Kakadu; the previous one occurred at Yulara. It seems to me that there is a most peculiar situation in the Northern Territory these days, for one reason or another. The Territory is so dependent on the tourist industry. There is a great deal of tourist promotion and many people are coming from many parts of the globe to Australia and to the Northern Territory to see the wonders of Kakadu, Ayers Rock and so on. The tourist industry is so dependent on promotion, particularly by film units and such, but there seems to be a flood of incidents where the film crews are unable to get permission to carry out their filming.

As I understand the situation, in this last week this particular film unit, headed by Richard Ryall of International Expeditions, the American operators who produced the Queensland-Northern Territory brochure, has been banned from further filming in the Kakadu National Park. I received that advice from the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service. It was yesterday or this morning that I heard a brief report on the radio program AM about this matter. I think the matter needs to be cleared up. Very clear guidelines have to be laid down on how film units are to operate if it is necessary for them to get permission to film. At times I wonder why it is that people have to get permission to take photographs or to film in a national park.

I do not wish to engage in a long debate at this time. I simply wish to ask the Government to look into the matter and report back to the Senate. I direct some questions to the Minister for Education and Youth Affairs, Senator Ryan, who represents in this chamber the Minister for Home Affairs and Environment (Mr Cohen). I refer to the decision yesterday by the National Parks and Wildlife Service to ban a film crew from filming from the air Deaf Adder Gorge in Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory. I ask: First, why is it necessary for a film crew to obtain permission to film in a national park when such parks are said to be for the benefit and use of the general public? Secondly, given that it is necessary to obtain permission, what is the procedure for obtaining a permit to film in a national park, and who is required to obtain a permit? Thirdly, who is responsible for the issue of such permits? Fourthly, if traditional Aboriginal owners-I am talking about land that is owned by Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory and leased back to the National Parks and Wildlife Service-give their approval to film land in a national park, what role does the National Parks and Wildlife Service then play? Is it still necessary to obtain a permit from the National Parks and Wildlife Service?

Fifthly, is there a requirement that a permit be obtained to carry out aerial filming? If so, can the Minister expound on that requirement, particularly in regard to aerial filming. It seems to me that the situation is getting a little ridiculous if it is necessary to obtain a permit to carry out aerial filming. I suppose it would be ludicrous to ask whether there is a requirement as to the altitude at which aerial filming should take place before permission is granted. Anyway, can the Minister expound on this requirement? Sixthly, does the Minister anticipate that at some stage in the future it will be necessary to obtain a permit also to take aerial photographs of national parks or Aboriginal lands. It all seems so strange to me. Seventhly, will the Minister explain the Government' s views on filming in national parks, taking into account the problems that have recently occurred in regard to filming initially in Uluru National Park and now in Kakadu National Park?