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Thursday, 29 November 1973
Page: 2316

Senator LITTLE (Victoria) -I wish to make a few remarks in relation to this matter because of what has been said, and I particularly refer to the statement that the $700,000 that has been allocated will more or less round off the project. This project will carry on next year but I ask whether that amount includes the purchase of the turtles. As I understood from answers to question asked in Estimates Committee E, there are 15,000 turtles in various stages of growth which the Commonwealth is obliged to purchase from the Torres Strait islanders who have been encouraged to raise these turtles.

The figure that has been mentioned as the probable purchase price was $80 a turtle on site, that is, on Torres Strait Islands. If that is the case and if there were 15,000 turtles, it means that at some stage we are obliged to purchase, whether it is from Applied Ecology Pty Ltd or the marketing company, 15,000 turtles at $80 each. That makes a total of $1.2m at the market place. In view of the remoteness of the area in which this product has been reared and the fact that the turtles will be reaching maturity at different stages I see an enormous problem in conveying them to the market, and nobody seems to have information as to where that is at present. I do not see how we can consider that this project will be rounded off with the $700,000 to be allocated for the rest of this year. We must look forward, with the responsibilities already established to the people who have been encouraged to embark on this enterprise, to the expenditure of considerably more money. I see it as my obligation to draw that matter to the attention of the Senate at this time. There will be required in the future for the purchase and disposal of the turtles a lot more money than $700,000.

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