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Wednesday, 3 December 1986
Page: 3274


Senator SANDERS(4.14) —I will not detain the Senate for very long. I point out that the Government still has not realised the true value of the Antarctic continent. The true value of the Antarctic continent lies in its wilderness value. It should be a world heritage wilderness area because that is what it is; it is the world's last great wilderness. Mineral activity, mining, oil drilling will ultimately destroy this wilderness as all the major wildernesses on earth have been destroyed by human activity. We have the opportunity now and we should be able to exercise our 20:20 hindsight to see what has happened to the rest of the world and harness that with some foresight to preserve this wilderness once and for all. We had the foresight to preserve it from military activity-well and good. Now we should preserve it from all mineral activity.

One very disturbing thing that is happening at this very moment, and a thing which the Australian Government is aiding and abetting, is the French extension of their arrogance on to the Antarctic continent. Their arrogance in the Pacific is well known with the testing of their nuclear weapons against our wishes, against the wishes of everybody in the Pacific. Now they are building an airstrip at Dumont d'Urville on the Antarctic continent. This airstrip is on one of the few bare patches of land on the Antarctic continent. There are not many bare patches of land there; most of it is covered with ice as is well known. In order to build this airstrip they have had to shift the animal life, the bird life, which has always lived there. This is not easy to do. Because there are so few bare patches of land in the Antarctic, the amount of animal life on each bare patch is quite considerable. The French have sought to shift the penguins from their rookery. They shifted the penguins but they came back. They have killed quite a few and they are adamant that they will continue in this effort to build their airstrip, despite the outcry of many concerned people around the world.

Australia has aided and abetted in this activity by allowing the Nella Dan to bring the earthmoving equipment from Europe to Hobart where it will be transhipped on a Norwegian vessel, the Polar Bjorn. The fact that it is being transhipped from Hobart, an Australian port, makes Australia as guilty as France in destroying the fragile ecology of the Antarctic continent. It is time that the Australian Government took some action to preserve this portion of the Antarctic continent from the depredations of the French. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.