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Thursday, 3 November 1983
Page: 2326

Mr BRAITHWAITE(5.37) —In speaking to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Amendment Bill 1983, what surprises me about the whole attitude so far is that in the second reading speech of the Minister for Home Affairs and Environment ( Mr Cohen) and in the comments of the honourable member for Herbert (Mr Lindsay), no recognition is given to the part played by the Queensland Government in respect of the co-operation extended in order to make this zoning possible and the marine park work. I take up a comment that was made by the honourable member for Herbert about the Queensland Government being urged to do something with Florence Bay. Under the policy of his party in Queensland, the Tourist and Travel Corporation would have been disbanded and such a project as that would not have been feasible. I give him some hope that perhaps Florence Bay might go ahead after the development at Airlie Beach, which is another project that is on the scales. I see, Mr Deputy Speaker, that you are looking at me as I am not relating my remarks to the Bill, so I will get back to it. It is unkind that the efforts of the Queensland Government in this regard have been overlooked because I am pretty sure that the Minister for Home Affairs and Environment would agree with me, after his brief period in the position, that such a declaration as has now been made could not have been done without the--

Mr Cohen —You are absolutely right and I apologise if I forgot to pay tribute to the Queensland Government's efforts.

Mr BRAITHWAITE —Very good. It just goes to show that, while the Queensland Government in some ways is painted as anti-environmentalist, unco-operative and things like that, in some cases with Commonwealth influence such a project as this can be brought forward. I just put that on the record. The other thing I want to place on the record is my thanks to the Minister for making available to members in the adjoining area the experience and the advice of counsellors from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and also the provision of a lot of material that made it a lot easier for we who work in the electorates to understand what was going on so that we could associate what the Authority was doing and what the Minister was doing with what the aspirations of the Queensland Government and of the people living in that area would be. I made the comment at the time that I thought it absolutely essential, for this to be a successful declaration, that consultation with the onshore and offshore resort owners and interested people in the area be sought. In that regard I refer to the Minister's second reading speech, in which he stated:

That Authority places great emphasis on establishing and maintaining liaison with the many and diverse user groups that depend on the resources of the Great Barrier Reef.

He went on to state:

The Authority recognises that regular users of the reef have a wealth of information which can supplement that of scientists and managers.

In every respect I can only say 'Thank you very much' to the Minister and to the Authority for taking into account the very basic elements that are necessary to make the marine park work properly. I mentioned consultation. Many people who have worked on island resorts, tourist pleasure boats and such things have a wealth of experience. I think it would be fair enough to say that over the period of their stewardship, in the absence of this Marine Park Authority, they have done a tremendous job in making sure that their activities were compatible with the area. The Great Barrier Reef is I think, regarded as an Australian heritage, as I would like to think the America's Cup will become. The reef is a very important part of what we as a nation can claim as a heritage. It is something every Australian and every international visitor would want maintained in its present form.

Mr Cohen —They can't win it off us, can they?

Mr BRAITHWAITE —I was going to suggest in relation to the America's Cup that, with the declaration of the marine park, the Minister might give approval for the race to be conducted off the off-shore islands in the Whitsunday area. I put that to him as a suggestion to which he might respond. We have the best waters for the race. In fact, we have the sand, the sun and the surf the equal of which cannot be found anywhere else in the world. There is no better place to conduct that race in the middle of winter when the southerners will be happy to come up to Queensland. I put to the Minister that he might grant approval to such a request if it is made. I think it is necessary to mention also, in connection with the industries and the potential of the reef, the latest decision by the Commonwealth to install lighthouses within the Hydrographers Passage. That, of course, will improve the steaming time of vessels from the Far East to Mackay or other Queensland ports. At a time when competition in coal freights and exports is very much the name of the game I think that is a very welcome addition. At the moment a lot of things are going on with the reef to which I think all Australians can turn their attention. I believe the Hamilton Island resort has already been mentioned.

I have mentioned people who, in the past, have helped with their tremendous experience. I suggest that perhaps they have more practical experience than has the Authority, or perhaps the National Parks and Wildlife Service rangers. Perhaps the Minister can clear up a point in relation to these people. Andre Maestracci at Hayman Island, John Mountney at Happy Bay and Tom McLean at Brampton Island at the moment have reefs adjoining the islands. I understand the reefs are Commonwealth property. What access will these people have? They have claimed, maintained and looked after these reefs over many years. They have been part and parcel of the island resort activity. I mention particularly, Hayman Island, which has actually attached to it a very fine reef which, I suppose, would surface at low tide. I am wondering what attitude is being taken by the Authority in relation to the regular use of these areas. They have been kept in first class order. A person can fish there now in an environment that is as good as it was 50 years ago. That type of reef has always been maintained.

Mr Cohen —Who was the person you mentioned?

Mr BRAITHWAITE —Andre Maestracci at Hayman Island.

Mr Cohen —He is the manager?

Mr BRAITHWAITE —He is the manager at Hayman Island. I know he would have a fear that with the declaration of parts of the reef these places may not be as available as they have been. They are a feature along the whole chain of those Whitsunday islands. There are also the people who use the reef regularly, the reef charter operators such as Air Whitsunday and the Elizabeth E. Cruises, run by the Evetts. The Minister has probably met them. I think he would agree, if he has met these people, that they have done a tremendous job in maintaining the environment. If anything, they have tried to improve it. Of course, these people would want to continue to have access in order that the tourist industry can continue to develop. There is also potential for the air traffic people. Amphibians are being used extensively. There is also potential of hovercraft.

Mr Cohen —They are excellent, those amphibians.

Mr BRAITHWAITE —Yes, and I hope they will be allowed. People on a whole stack of islands-Brampton, Hayman, South Molle, Day Dream, Linderman and Hamilton, all within the Whitsunday group-have played their part in the past in maintaining the environment. I think the people concerned need some reassurance in that regard, if the Minister can give it. I want to place on record also what a good reputation is enjoyed by the Queensland National Parks and Wildlife Service. Only about three or four weeks ago I was a judge of wildlife and the environment in a competition run as an adjunct to that Service. A tremendous effort was made . The people in the competition are very well respected by the community. It is great to know that the maintenance of the park will be left in their hands, even though the maintenance and also the capital improvements will be funded equally by the State and Federal governments.

The States rights issue has always haunted the declaration of the park. Fears have been raised with the Franklin Dam issue in the south. But in all respects I believe the solution that has been found in this case is excellent. It conforms to law. It also shows a spirit of co-operation between all parties. I am fairly sure that the Minister, in dealing with his counterparts on the other side of the State fence, would have found this too. The honourable member for Herbert expressed concerns about the use of the reef-about the Taiwanese plundering the reef and such things. I believe that whilst this has been a moderating influence over the last few years the Authority ought to be able to take firm steps in this regard. I am sure that any policing of that nature would only enhance the reef.

I would appreciate it if the Minister can answer some of my questions. This legislation is a very good result. Provided the Authority keeps on with the consultations that have been promised in the second reading speech, I am sure that international asset, the Great Barrier Reef, will be maintained in its present form not only for the generations which come immediately after us but also so that the generations in a thousand years' time can enjoy what I believe is the best tourist spot and the best place for peace and quite one can find anywhere in the world.