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Wednesday, 29 February 2012
Page: 2401

Mr BURKE (WatsonMinister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities) (10:15): I thank all members for their contributions to this debate, in particular the member for Flinders for his comments on providing bipartisan support for the bill that is before the chamber.

The Antarctic holds a very special place for all Australians not only because of our territorial claim but also because of the role that the member for Wills just referred to that was performed by former Prime Minister Bob Hawke. We were that close to serious mining exploration and mining going on in the Antarctic, and it was an Australian prime minister working together with a French prime minister that turned the entire international consensus around. The outcome—and it is one that all Australians now own with a great deal of national pride—is that there is one place on earth where we have an entire continent which is pristine, and we intend to keep it that way.

I also offer my thanks to those who have acknowledged—in particular, the member for Canberra and the member for Lyons—the role of the Australian Antarctic Division. Based in Hobart, the Antarctic Division performs extraordinary scientific work. While the bill in front of us goes to some very specific issues relating to updating our treaty obligations, it has also been an opportunity for honourable members to provide a bit of detail and recognition to some great Australians—while it is pristine and magnificent, it is not a great place to be in winter, I tell you—and to some of the best scientists in the world who dedicate their lives to the pursuit of knowledge in a continent that is reserved for that pursuit.

I want to pay a very special level of recognition to the members of the Australian Antarctic Division and the work that they do within my department and also acknowledge their base in Tasmania. Keeping Tasmania as Australia's gateway to the Antarctic is something to which the government has a very high level of commitment, and Tasmanian members of parliament have always made sure that the government's commitment to that never changes. I commend the bill to the House.

Bill read a second time.

Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.

Ordered that this bill be reported to the House without amendment.