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Thursday, 4 December 1986
Page: 3397

Senator TOWNLEY(5.01) —At the outset I must say that my dissent in Senate committee reports is very rare. In fact, I think this is the only time when I have dissented from a committee report. I agree with some of the recommendations that have just been mentioned by Senator Jones-for instance, the land use plan. Most of Australia should have a land use examination. I was a member of a committee that looked at that subject and I agree with the idea. The area in question is not pristine, it is not inhabited and it is therefore very suitable for mining. There is no one to disturb and it is not an area that should be locked up forever, as some people would have.

The area is so large that sand could be exported from it for hundreds of years without materially affecting it. The area is so extensive that it took us something like 20 minutes in an aircraft doing 160 knots to go from one end of it to the other. Although it is not quite as wide as it is long, that description gives some idea of its size. With suitable rehabilitation, sand could be removed from the area with a minimum of damage and provide exports for many years. I have had the opportunity of seeing the rehabilitation of sand mined areas in New South Wales and other rehabilitation work. I can assure the Senate that in many cases the area that has been rehabilitated in some ways is a lot better than it was before the mining took place.

The setting up of an overseeing committee comprising several groups was mentioned. I do not believe the Commonwealth should become involved in such a proposal. This is a State matter rather than a Commonwealth matter and I think it is up to the State to make sure that the control of the area is exercised properly. Due to the time constraints that the Senate is under I refer people to my dissenting report and say that in a modern society we have to recognise that there has to be some balance between use and conservation. With any area we have to look at multiple land use rather than locking land up for only one use. It has to be recognised by a modern society that we cannot have the benefits of Australia's present standard of living without being prepared to use some of the very great assets that this country has. Finally, I thank my colleagues who were with me on the Senate Standing Committee on Science, Technology and the Environment, Senator David Vigor and Senator Gerry Jones. As Senator Jones is from Queensland he has a very real interest in the area. I thank the staff who helped us to prepare the report.