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Wednesday, 11 October 1972
Page: 1426


Senator KEEFFE (Queensland) - I do not want to delay the passage of the Bill for very long, but if we had proceeded on normal lines when it was before the Committee previously there is no reason why it could not have been passed. Honourable senators will probably recall that after my 12-minute speech it took 33 minutes in an attempt to throw me out of the chamber. I am pleased that the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) today had explanations of the studies that will be made in New South Wales. It might be appropriate for me to remind him that when I made my contribution to the previous debate I was hoping to have recorded words which in the long term would do something to preserve the indigenous flora and fauna and at the same time I was trying to preserve his political integrity. I gather that the lesson has been learnt. In view of his analyses and his explanations today it does appear that something in the nature of proper studies will be carried out in the future.

I reiterate that the Bill applies not only to New South Wales but also to Queensland. Probably the deadest areas in that

State are those areas which have been given over to softwood plantings without any attempt to preserve the indigenous plant, bird or animal life. The situation in Queensland is a little different because a fair amount of the so-called hoop pine, which is an indigenous plant, is planted there. In other States almost all the softwood plantings are exotic pines. In the long term, if we developed our own softwoods we might further eliminate damage to the environment. I hope that the recent words of the Premier of New South Wales can be taken with a grain of salt. He is reported to have said, in words of encouragement to people to build industries in that State, that he would protect them from the environmentalists. Quality of life is a major factor in 1972. Fifty years ago we did not worry very much about it; our population was small, and the chances of pollution of our forests, of our waterways and of our air was immeasurably smaller than the chances of pollution today.

With mechanisation rapidly stretching its tentacles out into country areas and into areas that were once sparsely populated, but which are not now sparsely populated, and wilh overcrowding and overstocking in the vast central areas of this country, we have a major problem on our hands. The people who will make the great contribution to the preservation of the Australian way of life as we know it and as those who went before us knew it will be the people who plan our forests and our roadways. In my view, these things go hand in hand. 1 believe that the planners of the future cannot go willy-nilly in separate ways without co-ordination of planning. This applies to those who want to expand our cities or to decentralise. It applies to those who want to build highways in this nation, lt applies to those who are responsible for the airways. This matter could bc dealt with by the Minister wearing his hat as Minister for Civil Aviation and not wearing his hat as Minister in charge of this Bill. There should be complete cleanliness and no pollution of the atmosphere.

I deal now with reafforestation. There are great areas in which regeneration can be carried out without the need to carry out new plantings. Regeneration is a new field in Australian forestry. Many of our native trees are quite productive commercially. Not only in the areas where we need to grow softwoods but also in other places, such as the places where we are developing our wood chip industry, vast areas are denuded of original trees. I recall that only a few days ago someone made a statement that in 20, 30 or 40 years lime the wood chip industry will prove an asset to Australia. It will not, if it is not controlled or if there is not proper overseeing. Who better to do it than the Commonwealth? The industry is being established in a number of places. The projection is that it will be established in other areas too. The Commonwealth is taking a very light view of the whole situation, particularly the situation in the Northern Territory. There is no quarrel about the amount of overseeing that we can do there. In Commonwealth Territories we have complete constitutional power to see that in a wood chip industry reafforestation is carried out in accordance with all the good practices that this country wants to see.

I made my submissions on the amendment when 1 spoke a fortnight ago. I do not want to repeat anything that 1 said then. 1 believe that the House of Representatives amendment, which will allow i'.ie States to obtain sufficient money to proceed with their softwood planting.*, goes part of the way to what I would like to see. I think 1 state fairly the attitude of my Party when I say that we will not oppose the amendment but we want these protective measures taken not only at the Commonwealth level but at the State level.







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