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Wednesday, 27 May 1987
Page: 3450

Mr Slipper asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Environment, without notice, on 1 April 1987 (Hansard page 1868):

In his joint statement with the Treasurer and the Prime Minister dated 20 March 1987 regarding the Federal Government's export control powers and their use in relation to silica mining at Shelburne Bay it was stated that mining would be contrary to the national interest, chiefly because of its impact on the environment. The statement went on to say that the Government's decision followed detailed and careful consideration of the proposal. I therefore ask the Minister: First, who were the environmental experts who advised the Government on this project; second, when was the investigation carried out; third, was the investigation carried out on site; and, four, will the Government make public the report that it received on the environmental impact?

Mr Cohen —On 1 April 1987 (Hansard page 1868) Mr Slipper asked a question without notice concerning Shelburne Bay. I partially answered the question in the House. The following further information is provided to complete my answer:

In assessing the environmental implications of the Shelburne Bay silica sand proposal, I received advice from officers of my Department, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and the Australian Heritage Commission (AHC).

In addition, the preparation and public review of an environmental impact statement (EIS), in accordance with the provisions of the Environment Protection (Impact of Proposals) Act provided an opportunity for Commonwealth and State Government authorities, interested bodies and the public to comment and advise on the environmental aspects of that proposal. I sought the preparation and submission of an EIS on the Shelburne Bay proposal on 14 June 1985. The draft EIS, prepared by the consultants to the Shelburne Silica Joint Venturer, was made available for public review in June/August 1986 and some seventy-five submissions were received. In accordance with the Administrative Procedures under the Act, a final EIS was then submitted by the Joint Venturer. Upon receipt of this document an assessment report was prepared by my Department for my consideration. I subsequently made recommendations on the environmental aspects of the proposal to other Ministers on 20 November 1986.

Prior to the submission of the final EIS, an officer of my Department together with officers from the AHC and the GBRMPA visited the site and inspected the area in company with the Joint Venturer's consultants.

All environmental assessment reports prepared by my Department following the preparation of an EIS under the Environment Protection (Impact of Proposals) Act are made available to the public upon request. the Shelburne Bay assessment report has been available, on request, since November last year and a copy was sent to the Joint Venturers at that time.