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Tuesday, 8 November 1977
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Mr YATES (Holt) - I want to spend a few moments this afternoon in supporting the Environment (Financial Assistance) Bill which was presented to the House by the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development (Mr Newman). I do so on three grounds: Firstly, I have found that almost every Australian now is at heart a conservationist. Secondly, there is major national concern about the fact that some of our most treasured buildings have been lost. Thirdly, there is major concern because some of Australia's rare species of wildlife are so likely to be lost in the next 20 years unless we take very great care. In my view there should be no monopoly- and no particular party is entitled to the monopoly- of concern for conservation. It is the concern of us all.

It is sometimes said that those people who first came to this country ravaged the country and did a lot of damage. In certain cases that may be so but I do not think we should look upon the whole problem of conservation with a feeling of guilt. Certainly, we ought not to look upon it with the gloom which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Uren) always asks us to adopt. I prefer to look upon it with the charm, grace and elegance of the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron). Honourable members should look at the wonderful buildings in Robe. They should look at the history of Robe. They should look at the wonderful areas in Australia.

I wish to make a few comments about conservation. The next problem we have to face is education in conservation. Are we teaching the children in our schools how to use the equipment they take with them when they go into the wildlife areas? How many rivers have I found full of spinners because people or children did not know how to use their tackle? What a tragedy it is, when fishing in the Falls Creek area and watching the evening sun go down, to have to stand on glass bottles or cans. The first lesson in conservation must be taught and understood by all those who go into the countryside. Let us take an example of one person in the last century who made a very fine contribution towards conservation. I refer to the work of Carlo Catani. If honourable members looked from the Dandenongs straight down to Westernport they would realise what a wonderful operation it was to clear the whole of the area and to make it some of the most fertile and most valuable land in Australia. The black soil around Kooweerup is well known to anybody with an understanding of farming.

Those who understand must appreciate how difficult it is for people to work out conservation plans when two authorities are involved. Take, for example, the Shire of Cranbourne. There are two authorities involved- the Westernport Regional Council and the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works. A third authority deals with all the effluent which goes into Westernport Bay. There must be a genuine cooperation between all these authorities. I say that it would be tragic if we lose the use of Westernport Bay because development of industry in that area. The development must be done with the greatest possible care. The revision of the boundaries of Holt have given me the wide areas towards the bay. I consider that conservation is one of the most important things to which every member of this House should devote his attention in the next 10 or IS years. Industries are developing in this area. They must be developed carefully and with sound sense.

I do not want to take up too much time of the House -

Mr Haslem - I am glad to hear you say that. There is a Bill dealing with returned servicemen. You are delaying it.

Mr YATES - I did not know that. I am an exserviceman. If the honourable member had said that there was another important Bill on which he wished to speak, I would have given up my time. In view of that statement, I will say only one thing: This Bill is designed to assist those who are working voluntarily, both at a national level and at a State level, in the most important area for our nation, that is, the conservation of all the beautiful things we possess in our country.

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