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Monday, 23 March 1987
Page: 1114


Senator COLSTON —Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Environment been drawn to a weekend newspaper report that the Queensland Government is exploring ways to mine Shelburne Bay, despite Federal Government action to prevent this from occurring? Will the Minister outline the action the Federal Government has taken with regard to Shelburne Bay, whether the Queensland Government can circumvent the Federal Government's action and subsequently rape another area of Queensland, and whether the Federal Government has any control over exports of material which may be mined at Shelburne Bay?


Senator RYAN —The Government announced in its statement of 20 March 1987 that it has decided not to approve the Shelburne Bay silica sand proposal, under its foreign investment policy, as the proposed mine is contrary to the national interest primarily because of its impact on the environment. Should the project proceed, the Government has foreshadowed its intention to reintroduce export control powers on silica sand to ensure that silica sand mining in the Shelburne Bay area cannot proceed. This action is entirely consistent with the Government's commitment to protect areas of national environmental importance, such as Moreton Island and Fraser Island, from degradation. Of course, this is in marked contrast to the announced anti-conservation stance of the Opposition on these issues.

I am aware of statements made in the past by Senator Collard, the Opposition spokesman on the environment, that a future coalition Government would exclude export controls for environmental purposes. This would mean quite clearly that, under a future Liberal-National Party government, there would be no environmental controls on mineral sand mining, except those imposed by the States. In the Queensland context this would be a very ominous development. The future of Fraser and Moreton islands would be at risk, and I hardly need remind honourable senators of events last year in relation to Lindeman Island for them to appreciate what protecting the environment means in Queensland.