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Wednesday, 3 December 1986
Page: 3272

Senator ARCHER(4.04) —I welcome the response of the Government to the excellent report of the Senate Standing Committee on National Resources. Antarctic research is very important to Australia and internationally. More and more nations and more and more people have become involved and interested in all the fascination and the magnificent science that is associated with it. The report covered so many of the issues, and the response will satisfy the concerns of most of those involved. One of the issues to be taken into account is that, whatever rules are made, the interest of people will only continue to increase. Stopping people, particularly those dedicated to research, from pursuing that interest will be very difficult. However, carrying out genuine research in an orderly manner is what it is all about, and that should be possible. The Australian Antarctic research establishment is the body that is best fitted in the world to influence a management position. Hopefully, a substantial Antarctic industry can be set up from Hobart, where transport, communications, technicians, tradesmen and scientists can be contracted to overseas nations and can be equipped, clothed and fed.

Having that base and the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources in Hobart has already become important, and efforts to have the treaty headquarters constructed there also must be pursued. While the unknown mineral content, the animals, the scientific history and the climatic genesis are there, people in growing numbers will be wanting to participate as scientists or frontiersmen seeking thrilling experiences. It is a matter of regret that at this stage we rely so much on other nations to tell us much about our possessions and our resources. I believe Australia needs to determine clearly its position as to its Antarctic possessions. At this stage nothing is clear as to whether our involvement is mainly territorial, scientific, for conservation, resources or what. I believe a statement should be made, even if only to state how the present funding should be appropriately distributed between the various departments. Fortunately, there appears to be total bipartisanship on the part of the Government and the Liberal Party of Australia, both on the Committee and in the Parliament.