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Friday, 1 May 1987
Page: 2474

Mr ROBERT BROWN(4.19) —The details that I have given in the few opportunities that I have taken during the adjournment debate in order to detail some of those matters are well documented. If the honourable member who spoke just prior to this contribution of mine wishes to review the Hansard and advise me of any mistakes of fact in any of the matters that I have raised, I will be prepared to acknowledge them. He is one of the few remarkable people in this Parliament prepared to defend-even at the extent of damaging his own youthful credibility-the abuses and misuses of power which are proceeding and which have persisted for years.

Mr McGauran —You are all hot air. What are they?

Mr ROBERT BROWN —I have detailed them. The honourable member asks me what they are. The honourable member should read the Hansard. I will now proceed with item 26, so he should listen and contain himself. He may be interested in what I have to say. I want to draw attention to some of the more spectacular environmental issues in which Sir Joh Bjelke- Petersen has been involved. Firstly, he supported sandmining in the Cooloola dunes north of Noosa. He lost this argument in the 1970s and almost lost the leadership of the Government because of it.

The Cooloola beaches issue was followed by Joh's plan to allow the mining of Fraser Island. The Fraser Government-a conservative coalition government-thwarted his plan by refusing to grant export licences for the sand-mining minerals. Fraser Island is recognised as unique. This was another major environmental issue of the 1970s.

Sir Joh's support in 1986 for the revocation of the national park's reservation on Lindeman Island was neutralised when the developer-East-West Airlines Ltd-withdrew its application in the face of public opposition. His support for mining exploration in the Great Barrier Reef was defeated by public pressure which saw the Federal Government assume control of the reef waters for the marine park. Unfortunately, the Queensland Government was able to retain control of the reef islands.

The Queensland Government forced a road through the Daintree forest in far north Queensland. It supported and funded the local Douglas Shire Council to bulldoze the road and rejected efforts by the Hawke Government to provide alternatives. The road is largely impassable and is now eroding into the waters of the barrier reef islands.

Sir Joh also allowed the heavy logging of the Mount Windsor plateau rainforest near Cairns and the Downey Creek rainforest near Innisfail. In early 1987 the Queensland Government demanded that a Japanese company be allowed to mine the Shelburne Bay sand-hills near the tip of Cape York Peninsula for silica. The dunes are one of the natural wonders of Australia. It is estimated that only 13 jobs would be provided and that the mining would earn only $50,000 a year in royalties for the Queensland Government. In early 1987 the Queensland Government proposed to sell some of the barrier reef resort islands to private developers. The Hawke Government declared that it would do all in its powers to protect the islands and the reef.

Despite the outburst of the honourable member for Gippsland (Mr McGauran), it is fortunate that we have, at the Commonwealth level at present the Hawke Government, which is prepared to stand up when it is necessary and to prevent the destruction of some of these great and magnificent beaches, parts of Australia's natural scenery and environment. If the honourable member for Gippsland wants to defend the abuses and misuses of power which have taken place in Queensland, let him now repeat what he said and again place it on the record. I was very interested to hear what he had to say. He is one of the new and younger members of the National Party of Australia for whom we held out much hope. His outburst today, his pouring of vitriol on me, occurred when I was simply detailing substantiated and well documented events of the Queensland political scene at present and it reflects very little credit on him. We are disappointed in him.

Madam SPEAKER —There is a rule about calling honourable members. Although an Opposition member has risen to speak, if an honourable member has not spoken in the debate, I have to call him. I call the honourable member for McMillan.