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Wednesday, 29 June 1994
Page: 2307


Senator BURNS (3.18 p.m.) —I clearly believe that the national government has a responsibility to protect the environment. Only two years ago we signed in South America an agreement aimed at proper development that did protect the environment. Senator Ian Macdonald can talk about development at any cost and to hell with the environment. I can talk about protection of the environment and letting jobs go to hell. However, I do not think either of those propositions is correct. One has to look at the merits of those issues. However, I am certain of one thing. The environment came before development and before jobs. If we do not protect the environment, we fail the generations that will come after us.

  I believe that Senator Faulkner, as the responsible minister, should use whatever powers are at his disposal to protect this area. If one looks at the Port Hinchinbrook development proposal, one sees that it comes from Keith Williams, whose Hamilton Island venture went into receivership. It was a 2,000-bed resort, with a 234-berth marina at Oyster Point.

  The development was to be located on the landward side of the Hinchinbrook channel near Hinchinbrook Island, part of the Great Barrier Reef world heritage area. The island is the largest island national park in the world with deep mangrove channels, mountains, pristine features and rainforests. It is a world famous wilderness area, and I believe that Senator Faulkner has a responsibility to look after and protect that particular area. I do not believe it is appropriate for people to try to move this development to a stage where irreversible damage can take place.

  I commend Senator Faulkner for his stand on the matter. It may well be that in the future a project which is somewhat environmentally friendly and within the capacity of that wilderness area to cope can be developed, which will benefit people in the community and which will be recognised, not only in Queensland and Australia but throughout the rest of the world, as being a desirable development.