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Tuesday, 5 November 1985
Page: 1557

Senator COLLARD (Leader of the National Party of Australia)(6.26) —I move:

That the Senate take note of the paper.

We are dealing with a report entitled `Rainforest Conservation in Australia' which was presented to the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Environment (Mr Cohen) by a working group on rainforest conservation. Most of the States which have major rainforest areas were represented on that committee. That representation included people from the department that are responsible for these significant areas as well as people from conservation groups. I think it is worth noting that this was a unanimous report. All of those involved agreed with the general recommendations and the findings of the report. I must say that the Queensland Government is a signatory to the report.

I think a few things should be put in context. First of all, 91 per cent of rainforests in Queensland are on crown land and only 9 per cent are on private land. The figures for Australia are very similar-92 per cent of rainforests are on crown land and 8 per cent are on private land. I would like to home in on Queensland which has 55 per cent of the Australian total area of rainforests. As I said, 9 per cent of that area is on private land. I should also point out that 21 per cent of that rainforest area is in national parks and will not be touched and 45 per cent is in timber reserves or on other crown land and is not available for logging. So in Queensland we are actually looking at a total of 66 per cent of rainforests which will never be logged. The area involved is 750,000 hectares-three quarters of a million hectares-or 7,500 square kilometres. I think that this point should be made quite clear.

Senator Sanders —You say it has never been logged?

Senator COLLARD —It has never been logged and it is not available for logging. I wish that the honourable senator and his group would remember that. Sixty-six per cent of rainforests in Queensland is not available for logging. Only 25 per cent is available for logging and that logging is selective. It is not clear felling-it is selective logging of timber that is suitable.

Senator Sanders —Have you seen what happens to the canopy once they have taken the trees out of there?

Senator COLLARD —If the honourable senator understood that area he would know that the canopy soon grows. It has grown over roads. This has caused far more damage than the practice of taking out selected timber. Unfortunately, as has been indicated already, there are people in this world who do not know or do not want to know the true situation about the rainforests of Australia.

Senator Sanders —Have you been to Downey Creek? You haven't been to Downey Creek.

Senator COLLARD —Indeed, some of them are imports. This has been brought out not only by the ignorant interjections that we have just heard but also by some of the reports. I refer to a report which appeared as late as 1 November in the Age which reported Senator Chipp, the Leader of the Australian Democrats, as saying:

. . . Australia's rainforests are in danger of complete destruction.

The article quotes Mr Bill Hare, the Australian Conservation Foundation campaign director, as saying:

Areas such as Downey Creek will all be gone next year, unless the Federal Government acts quickly . . . However, Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen and the Forestry Minister, Glasson, are determined to log these forests to extinction and will keep stalling and talking while the chainsaws work.

Another guy by the name of Dr Joe Baker said that unless urgent action was taken the last of the accessible virgin rainforests south of the Daintree River would be logged out in two years. What absolute rot! We even had a report in the Age today under the byline of John Larkin and Gregg Borschmann which was headed `Email agrees to meet Cohen on Daintree logging'. Email, or its subsidiary, Foxwood Limited, does not log within 100 kilometres of the Daintree forest. It should be noted that 75,050 hectares of the Daintree forest is situated in both the Daintree and Cape Tribulation national parks.

Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.

Senator COLLARD —Before the suspension of the sitting for dinner, I was explaining that at least 66 per cent of the rainforest in Queensland has not been logged and will never be logged. It is either in national parks or in timber reserves. They are the facts, and they are half contained in the rainforest conservation paper about which we are talking. There is plenty of other documentary evidence on that. Concerning the Daintree, that is also an area that is not being logged except by one small operator in one small part, of 760 hectares, out of a total of 190,000 hectares.

Senator Sanders —What about the real estate brokers?

Senator COLLARD —The real estate is only on private land. That is nothing to do with the crown land. There is a lot of talk about the road. The road is built in a high stress area. It runs for one and a quarter--

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Haines) —Order! The honourable senator's time has expired.