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Wednesday, 10 November 1976
Page: 2578


There is no real substance in the point of order. There has been a wide-ranging debate covering all environmental matters affecting the community. I call the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.

Mr UREN -Mr Deputy Speaker,I point out that this report we are discussing tonight- the Fraser Island report- was commissioned under section 11 of the Environment Protection (Impact of Proposals) Act. I related this matter to the Ranger Uranium Environmental Inquiry's first report, which was also set up under the provisions of the Environment Protection (Impact of Proposals) Act. The point of order taken by the honourable member illustrates the trouble the honourable members on the Government side have. It is impossible to make a decision on the environment in isolation and separate issues one from the other. When a decision is made on environmental issues, it highlights that everything is connected to everything else. This is a basic truth. If on the one hand, the Government members seem to think that it can make a decision on the recommendations of the Fraser Island inquiry and then on the other hand ignore the recommendations of the Fox inquiry, this decision becomes a complete sop to the environmentalists. I quote the final recommendation of the Fox report in relation to uranium mining:

Our final recommendation takes account of what we understand to be the policy of the Act under which the Inquiry was instituted. It is simply that there should be ample time for public consideration of this Report, and for debate upon it. We therefore recommend that no decision be taken in relation to the foregoing matters until a reasonable time has elapsed and there has been an opportunity for the usual democratic processes to function, including, in this respect, parliamentary debate.

I am asking those Government members who support the Government's decision in respect to the Fraser Island report: Are they going to be consistent in relation to those recommendations? Are they going to make sure that there will be ample public debate before a decision is made in relation to the Fox inquiry? That is what I am challenging them on now. The Covernment cannot make a decision in relation to one inquiry commenced under the Environment Protection (Impact of Proposals) Act and then ignore the report of another environmental inquiry. We are seeking a public debate. We are seeking this debate to make sure that the issues are aired and that there is an open discussion.

Having said that, let me say that I feel the Government has made a courageous decision. But I say clearly that all members of Parliament should come together to support the position of those workers affected and ensure that the whole Wide Bay region does not suffer from this historic decision.

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