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Thursday, 30 April 1987
Page: 2057

Senator GARETH EVANS (Minister for Resources and Energy)(11.24) —That is being resolved in the Budget context. From my recollection-I am not speaking from notes-there are presently about 76 people based physically in the Northern Territory and Sydney, and, of course, substantial physical resources in the Jabiru area. It is a matter for the Government to determine whether those resources are sufficient to enable the job to be done properly in the stage 3 area. I am inclined to think that they are sufficient, not least because the present budgetary climate makes the allocation of extra resources so difficult. But that is a matter for judgment and we will certainly not do anything that will in any way prejudice our capacity to closely monitor environmentally what goes on there, and particularly monitor what happens in the South Alligator River system. I am inclined to think that these questions will become much more real in the context of mining development rather than the exploration stage because that is where the absolutely rigorous ongoing supervision is needed. But at the same time base line studies have to be done as a prelude to that subsequent environmental monitoring. Whether that can be done within existing resources is something that we are untangling right now.