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Wednesday, 4 March 1970

Mr N H Bowen (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Education and Science) - I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

Honourable members will recall the Prime Minister's announcement last October of the Government's intention to establish an Institute of Marine Science at Townsville in Queensland. This Bill provides for the establishment of such an institute, to be known as the Australian Institute of Marine Science, and makes formal provision for the detailed planning of its functions and powers.

Australia is excellently situated to make a significant contribution in the field of marine science. As an island continent, with a vast and varied coastline extending from the tropics far into the temperate zone, the opportunity for study, exploration, exploitation and conservation of our marine resources is large. Our shores are washed by no less than three of the great oceans - the Indian, Southern and Pacific Oceans - while the Great Barrier Reef and our extensive exposure to the Southern Ocean offer opportunities that are unique. While some valuable work in marine science is already being carried out in Australia, this is, in relation to the needs of Australia, too limited an effort. The Government has accordingly decided to establish the Australian Institute of Marine Science at

Townsville to provide a national centre that will conduct research itself and give encouragement to valuable studies conducted elsewhere.

The Institute should become a centre of excellence and earn for- itself and Australia a world reputation in the field of marine science. As the Bill provides, the Institute will be concerned with both biological and physical aspects of marine science and the reference in clause 7 (2.) of the Bill to certain specific matters will not limit the Institute's activities. I would expect the work and interests of the Institute to extend, as time goes on, over a very wide range of possibilities - for example, the study of the geology of the sea floor; the potential of the sea as a source of food and pharmacological products; the need for and means of conserving our marine environment; the effect upon that environment of the activities of man, in his attempts to win new treasures from the sea, and of predators, among which 1 would anticipate that the crown of thorns starfish would be a continuing subject of study until the problems it has created may have been solved.

Honourable members will note that the Bill provides for the appointment of an Interim Council to make recommendations on the functions and powers of the Institute and it is my intention to appoint Dr M. F. Day of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation as Chairman and the following scientists as members of the Interim Council: Professor C. Burdon-Jones of the University College of Townsville; Dr N. H. Fisher of the Commonwealth Bureau of Mineral Resources; Professor Dorothy Hill, Department of Geology and Mineralogy, University of Queensland; Mr Walter Ives, Secretary of the Department of Primary Industry; Mr D. F. McMichael, Director of the National Parks and Wildlife Service in the State of New South Wales; and Professor R. J. Walsh, representing the Australian Academy of Science.

As soon as the Interim Council has completed its work, I shall place its recommendations -before the Government so that a further Bill may be introduced prescribing in detail the functions and powers of the

Institute and its constitution. I have great pleasure in commending this Bill to honourable members.

Debate (on motion by Mr Stewart) adjourned.

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