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Thursday, 19 March 1987
Page: 978

Senator MASON —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Science. Is the Minister aware of recent reports made to the Congress of the United States of America on the serious depletion of the ozone layer in the atmosphere which screens out ultraviolet radiation from the sun? Is the Minister aware also that last year in Australia approximately 1,000 deaths resulted from malignant melanoma and more than 100,000 Australians developed non-fatal skin cancers? In view of this very front line position we have in regard to solar radiation and in view of the fact that even a small depletion of the ozone layer must adversely or even fatally affect thousands more Australians, will the Minister give a major priority to determining what Australia can do internationally to halt this depletion of the ozone layer and an equally high priority to making extremely strong representations to other countries, especially the United States, Europe and Japan, to cease immediately current activity which could possibly be contributing to this major catastrophe?

Senator BUTTON —In answer to the last part of the question, I think that it would be very difficult to make representations to other countries about all those factors which might be contributing to the problem. Having said that, I must say that the only briefing paper I have from the Minister for Science for Question Time today relates to the Schneider platypus and not to the ozone layer. In those circumstances, I will have to refer the question to the Minister and obtain an answer as quickly as I can.