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Thursday, 1 June 1972
Page: 2455

Senator MAUNSELL (Queensland) - I am pleased to support this Bill. Unlike Senator Keeffe, I, am very happy to see that the Australian Institute of Marine Science is to be established in Townsville. Senator Keeffe spent the whole of his time rubbishing the project and everything aso.ciated with it. I believe there is a necessity for an institute to study all aspects of life in the sea. Other benefits and by-products will come from such an institute. There is also a need to protect areas of scenic beauty such as our Great Barrier Reef. When we develop the Reef for our own nation and our own people, particularly ils oil resources, we have to bear in mind the effects that an oil spillage or any other pollution may have on this area. We also need a better knowledge of the sea and how to use all the resources of the sea effectively.

I am very pleased that this institute is being set up at Townsville for the simple reason that Townsville, as has been pointed out before, is a fairly large city which is situated pretty well near the centre of the Great Barrier Reef. With the university there, the necessary research can be undertaken in conjunction with the personnel who will be appointed to staff this institute. All sorts of arguments have been put up. Senator Keeffe immediately rubbished this proposal. He said that because the Greenvale smelter will be operating, the water will be polluted in that area and that prevention measures will not be effective. There is no reason in the world why acquariums have to be set up right at the mouth of the Herbert River or wherever the Greenvale plant is to be established.

Aquariums can be set up anywhere, wherever they are required. A lot of private museums are in that area now and no doubt they will be of great assistance to the Institute. I particularly refer to Green Island and Magnetic Island. New resorts are being established further up the main part of the Reef north of Cairns, and we will see excellent resorts on places such as Lizard Island. When that development takes place there will be an excellent area where research can be carried out.

It is necessary to carry out research on pests like the crown of thorns starfish. Senator Keeffe is like a lot of others - Senator Georges is another - who have been knocking the Queensland tourist industry for years. It is interesting to note that most of the Barrier Reef happens to be in 2 electorates held by the Labor Party, the honourable member for Leichhardt (Mr Pulton) and the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson). One only has to listen to what they say about the knockers of the tourist industry in their area, and Senator Keeffe would well know that he is not very welcome in either of those 2 electorates because he has been knocking the tourist industry there.

One of the reasons for setting up the Institute of Marine Science is to track the migratory habits of the crown of thorns and other pests. If Senator Keeffe is allowed by the honourable member for Leichhardt to go into that area he will be able to visit the Reef north of Queensland where it has been rejuvenated. The crown of thorns starfish were plentiful there years ago but there has been a regrowth and the coral is better than it ever was. That is the opinion of people who have lived there for years and often go out to the Reef.

Senator Georges - State your authority for that.

Senator MAUNSELL - You have had your say.

Senator Georges - State your authority when you make a sweeping statement like that.

Senator MAUNSELL - Go and talk to the people at the resorts, the people who own Green Island and Marineland, and the people who own the underwater observatory. They have been on the Reef for years.

Senator Keeffe - I rise to a point of order Mr President. I suggest that the honourable senator address the Chair instead of Senator Georges.

The PRESIDENT - There is no substance in the point of order. Senator Maunsell has been intimidated by Senator Georges. If Senator Georges cannot restrain himself from time to time because of the excitement of events in which he finds himself involved, perhaps he would do me the honour of asking a question if he wishes to attract the attention of the honourable senator who is speaking. The civilities and comity of the Senate are such that an honourable senator on his feet who hears a reasonable question asked by an honourable senator on the other side or on his own side of the chamber generally answers it. 1 do not think that a constant barrage of interjections is suitable to the decorum of the Senate or the ease and well being of the President.

Senator MAUNSELL - I was explaining to the Senate that the Institute is being set up so that we can investigate the habits of these pests. We know that some resorts have been devastated, particularly by the crown of thorns. We know that if we are to build up a tourist industry in north Queensland, particularly on the Barrier Reef, we must carry out a great deal of research into these things. It is all right for people to say that they know that these things are a pest and that this, that and the other should be done. They say that machinery should be established to get rid of these pests but I point out that the Reef is 1,500 miles long and God knows how many miles wide and, it would be impossible to meet the cost of destroying a pest in such a big area.

People interested in the tourist industry in Queensland have not been highlighting all of these things. I refer to the people who own Green Island and the Hayles organisation who protect those sections of the Reef to which they take tourists. During the tourist season they daily take a thousand tourists out to the Reef. They have been able to look after the Reef and show tourists various types of coral. Those people are not highlighting the points, as a lot of other people have been doing here, that the whole of the Barrier Reef has been destroyed by the crown of thorns and that it is a waste of time for anyone from overseas or the southern States to go there. We have to stop people saying that there is no coral left.

Many people have the interests of north Queensland and the Barrier Reef at heart. We should set up something along the lines suggested in this Bill and use our resources. The so-called Save the Barrier Reef Committee is only a political band wagon. Senator Georges can go to the area if he wishes and if he is so interested in looking after the Reef he and his supporters can contribute to the endowment scheme that is associated with it.

Senator Georges - How did they protect Green Island?

Senator MAUNSELL - I visited Green Island 3 weeks ago. People in the tourist industry there still take people to the various little reefs that they took them to 6 years ago. Those reefs are in good order today.

Senator Georges - How did they protect the Reef in the first place? Do you know the answer?

Senator MAUNSELL - As I explained to you earlier, the crown of thorns went through there but the people looked after their particular section of the Reef. There is only a certain section of the Reef that people like to look at anyway. There is another interesting point which 1 suppose is associated with the setting up of the Institute. Senator Keeffe mentioned the Greenvale smelter and said that because of the ore to be treated there the waters will be polluted anyway. I suggest to members of the Opposition that they talk to the people who are setting up the Greenvale plant and get hold of a copy of the agreement that the Greenvale organisation has with the State Government. They will see what measures have been taken to ensure that there will not be the pollution that they would like to see. Those honourable senators who have been to New Caledonia and Noumea know what pollution is like there as a result of nickel mining ventures. It is interesting to note that the treatment plant at Townsville will be of the low heat type. It will be more like a water sluicing plant and therefore there will be little, if any, air pollution from dust raised at this plant. Also, there are hundreds of acres of land there on which spoil and waste material from the treatment plant will be spread. This will rejuvenate the land which is now mainly swamp. No pollution is expected from this plant.

Senator Keeffe - Are you sure?

Senator MAUNSELL - I am telling you to read the contract and relevant Bill before criticising in this place anything that the Queensland Government or anyone else does. The people of Queensland are well aware of the identity of the knockers who are trying to knock any development in north Queensland. J will not detain the Senate any longer, Mr President. I understand that there are other speakers and we are all endeavouring to complete the business before us. I repeat that the Institute represents a great advance for Queensland and I am pleased to see that it is being built at Townsville. I support the Bill.

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