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Tuesday, 8 November 1977
Page: 3074

Mr McVEIGH (Darling Downs) History has recorded in its pages many instances of complete destruction when people have challenged nature. It also has recorded that when people have worked with nature they have lived to enjoy the benefits of that co-operation. I was most interested in the remarks of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Uren). I feel a certain sympathy with the points he enumerated. It is true that for too long we in Australia did not really appreciate the environment. If one can be critical of the previous era, one has to say that much of the development by the early settlers in this country was carried out without any significance being attached to the environment and the preservation of our great natural resources for the use of the generations that would follow. I join with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in paying a tribute to the previous Government for sparking off an interest m the environment as far as Australia as a nation is concerned. I hope that the small acorn that was planted will grow into a great tree so that the environment will be protected, so that we will not challenge nature and so that future generations will be able to enjoy the benefits of what nature can provide.

This Bill is the stepping stone to greater achievement in the years to come. One can criticise it for not spreading its umbrella widely enough or not gathering into its fold aU the things in which environmentalists are interested; but it is a start. It gives statutory outline to a cooperative effort between the Commonwealth Government and the States. Let us not forget that this type of legislation will act as a catalyst to encourage private individuals and organisations to play their part in the preservation of the environment and particularly the National Estate. I want to comment later on a few private organisations which I believe deserve encouragement. Their efforts deserve to be recorded in this national Parliament

The Bill indicates to the States that the Commonwealth seeks to be a partner with them. We do not seek to take over. We do not wish to manipulate. Rather, we want to work with the States so that man can live with the environment and does not become a victim of his own misuse of it. I believe that one or two things are worthy of comment. In this year's Budget, due to the efforts of the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development (Mr Newman) $2.55m was allocated for the National Estate. I understand that certain grants have been announced for Tasmania. We aU know how hard the Minister works and how very interested he is in the National Estate. We hope that he can hurry up the announcements of the grants for the other States. Many organisations and people currently are waiting to hear whether their particular enterprise has been granted some financial assistance. If those announcements could be made in the near future it would allow these people and organisations to plan ahead with some sense of security and with the definite knowledge that their efforts will be reinforced by a financial contribution from the Australian Government.

One of the projects in which I am particularly interested is called the Jondaryan woolshed. The Jondaryan area will be represented in the next Parliament by my good friend, the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett). The Jondaryan woolshed is a great monument to the ability of the men of last century to erect a building which in effect can withstand the exigencies of time. It was, in its heyday, the largest woolshed in Australia. I understand that at f resent it is the oldest woolshed still in operation, was most heartened in the days of the Labor Administration by the keen interest that was displayed in this project by the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron). He, as an ex-shearer, wanted to join with me and the people of the Jondaryan district in preserving the woolshed as a memorial not only to the AUS.tralian pastoral industry but also to the shearing industry. No pontics were involved. The honourable member came into this Parliament from the shearing sheds and shared my infectious enthusiasm for having a fitting memorial to the industry in aU spheres, from the bottom up.

I believe that if the honourable member for Hindmarsh had not been removed from his office we would have seen a rather generous allocation of funds to the Jondaryan woolshed for the purpose of recording that at that woolshed the first grains of the shearers strike were sown. That is all part of Australian history. It is part of the National Estate. Irrespective of the side of politics to which one belongs, that is Australia. That is how Australia grew. That is how Australia became one of the great free nations of the world. These things are worthy of recording. I refer to my interest in agriculture and the interest of the honourable member for Hindmarsh in the shearing industry. There cannot be an industry unless we have all facets- the worker, the pastoralist and all the transport activities. These people, through unrelenting application and a great deal of personal sacrifice, have done a lot to restore that woolshed. It is now a most fitting memorial to the early pioneers of that district. There even is employed there a man who can recreate the old transport buggies, make wheels and carry out that wonderful old trade of blacksmithing.

I hope that when grants are allocated the Jondaryan woolshed is among the recipients. It deserves to be among the recipients because it represents the industry. It does not represent just one section of the industry; it represents the whole industry. I am delighted that the honourable member for Hindmarsh has come into the chamber. It gives me an opportunity to pay a personal tribute to him for the encouragement he gave to me when we were trying to get the memorial off the ground.

Mr Corbett - We are broadminded in our party.

Mr McVEIGH -We are very fair about it, as the honourable member for Maranoa said. The other point about which I want to talk is that there is a need for a co-operative effort on the part of the Government and private enterprise. We have, again in the enlarged electorate of Maranoa, a wonderful display which represents the interests of a man in gathering together native flora and fauna. I refer to Mr Lance Cockburn of Brookvale Park, outside Oakey. There is there an area of land growing all the well known trees and many of the shrubs of Australia, gathered personally by him when he and other people interested in the project crossed Australia from east to west. That is a fitting memorial. No words of mine are necessary to compliment Mr Lance Cockburn. In his heart he sees recreated before him, each day as the dawn comes, something of himself. But more importantly, he has another project, that is, to collect together and to house a national orchid collection. This is a mammoth exercise which will require an injection of considerable funds. I hope that that idea receives encouragement with finance and gifts of orchids.

It grieves me to think that here in Australia where orchids grow in the bush- a profusion of different types, delicate shades all reflecting beauty- we do not have housed in one area a national orchid collection. That is what concern for the environment is all about, the preservation for those who come after us of typical Australian things. In that way, not only we who have seen them in the bush and have enjoyed them, have had the time to breathe away from the many pressures that are being exerted upon us and ave taken the time off to go into these areas, with some feeling of a sense of belonging, a sense of getting away from it all, but others also will be able to enjoy them.

I suppose many of us have been disappointed that we have to plead guilty to the charge of being negligent in regard to soil conservation. It is not for me to criticise the old pioneers. Probably if a little of their spirit of hard work was still present we would be a lot better nation. The old timers- honourable members on both sides of this House can claim them as their mums and dads; it is not the prerogative of any one sidewent out into the scrub with an axe, a sugar bag full of corned meat over their shoulders, tamed the scrub and made Australia great. But I believe that their farming methods were such that they have led to a rapid decline in the fertility of the soil and the loss of thousands of tons of soil from what were fertile highlands.

I have been most impressed by the efforts of some of the State governments to come to grips with the problem, to wrestle afresh with the fact that unless something is done we will have pollution of our streams and topsoils will be washed away, never to be replaced. Let us be critical and say that many thousands of acres of soil that have been cultivated should never have been cultivated; the land should have been left with trees and undergrass for pasture purposes and not used for the growing of crops. That was not done. Unfortunately we cannot turn the clock back, but let us hope that the Federal Government, particularly through tax incentives, can give encouragement to the farmers to preserve the soil, either by rotation of crops or by construction of contour banks or other appropriate measures.

We have allocated $200,000. 1 know that the Minister for the Environment, Housing and Community Development will use his considerable persuasive powers to get the Cabinet and the State governments to agree to a massive onslaught on the problem. Each day that passes makes the action an extra day too late. As well as the decline of fertility, there is the associated problem of clogging up the streams. I have listened here to people like the honourable member for Maranoa, the honourable member for Wimmera (Mr King) and the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Fisher) talk about what has happened in the last 20 or 30 years. They used to be able to get in a boat and row up the river but now those rivers are clogged up. The water holes are filled up because of the silt that has been washed down from the highlands. A lot of damage has already been done. Let us ensure that what has been done will not be repeated.

This Bill seeks to bring out national policies in two ways, not only in the manner of spending money, about which I have been commenting, but also in the matter of overseeing the importation of chemicals. It is both distressing and displeasing to note that man has wrought great damage by the indiscriminate use of chemicals. When I hear of a person being afflicted by some unknown disease I often wonder whether this can be traced back to the fact that he has absorbed through the pores of his skin pesticide and weedicide sprays, used by people aimlessly and without any idea of responsibility. I know that in the irrigation areas of Queensland, cotton worth thousands of dollars has been destroyed because of drift of chemicals from people who have been using weedicides in a windy situation and who have not exercised responsibility.

Therefore it is good to see in the Minister's second reading speech- I compliment him on the fact- that the Government, through the Aus.tralian Environmental Council, will move positively towards comprehensive and co-ordinated regulations for the export and import of environmentally hazardous chemicals. I believe that that is an excellent initiative. Damage done by chemicals cannot be measured in absolute terms. In the final analysis it is the cause of much sickness and much loss of income. The National Country Party and all Government supporters fully support this legislation. We agree with the criticism that has been advanced that it does not go far enough. But viewed against the background of a government moving in the right direction with great financial restrictions placed on it on account of the state of the economy, this is a positive proof to the Australian people that we are serious about the environment.

We are concerned about the problems of air pollution and land pollution. We are concerned that unless something is done to overcome the clogging up of the roads and to rid us of the fumes that are being exhausted into the air by uncontrolled transport, man will reach a situation where in effect he will be suffocated by the things he has created. For far too long people who live in cities have had to put up with unrelenting and unremitting noise. That must jar on the nerves of people who have emotional problems, people beset with the problems of rearing a family in a modern day and age with all amounts of pressures being exerted on them from economy, science and philosophy. They cannot even have time to sit down in peace and quietness and take a few minutes off without someone starting up with the whirr of the lawn mower, or a truck goes past with a broken muffler and there is the intrusion of noise. These are aU problems that we have to tackle. This Bill indicates that this Government is serious about attacking those problems. Unless the Government does something about this matter in association with the States it will not be possible for people who live in metropolitan Australia to enjoy a peaceful Sunday afternoon outing in the bush where the kids can run up and down the rocks, run down into the gulleys and climb the trees. I am delighted to note that the Minister commented in his second reading speech on parklands where people, no matter whether they are the richest or the poorest in the land, can go to enjoy the privileges of the countryside, where they can get away from it all, where they can sit down under the shade of the tree and listen to the beautiful sounds and the murmurings of the birds.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order!The honourable member's time has expired.

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