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Thursday, 7 November 1985
Page: 1761


Senator ARCHER(5.03) —The report entitled `Rainforest Conservation in Australia' is, without doubt, a very useful document. Many areas appear to be covered on a rather incomplete basis at this stage and many areas stand out as requiring considerably more work. There seems to be little understanding of what various State authorities have done over the last decade or so and what they have in train to recognise the adequate differences between the various types of rainforest in Australia. The overall broad brush method is not really the way to solve these sorts of problems. The report shows very clearly that there is a need for much more data, especially an accurate inventory, and for considerably more objective research. The document will be very useful for debates and discussions, particularly in the wide area of preservation and conservation; and the need to appreciate that is in the report. Mr Thompson, in his letter to the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Environment (Mr Cohen), raised that matter when he said:

Different interpretations were placed on the word `protect' in the recommended Commonwealth Rainforest Conservation Policy. The views of the timber industry and Queensland forestry authority representatives would have been better represented by the word `conserve', whilst the views of the conservation representatives would have been better represented by the word `preserve'.

It is not possible to remove sociological and economic considerations from any investigation. Those who would try to ignore the importance of the reality of life-that man and the environment must co-exist-are preventing a reasonable and meaningful discussion on this subject. The report shows that no drop-outs, dropins, disruptionists, crackpots, sensationalists, headline hunters, or whatever they might be, should be allowed to get in the way of a reasonable discussion on this subject. I consider the recommendations listed in paragraph 7.2 of the report to be quite predictable and to cover very adequately a range of interests represented by the Working Group on Rainforest Conservation. The balance to be achieved will be interesting and not without complications, but with this document as a starting point I am sure that practical and reasonable solutions can be achieved.

The Senate Standing Committee on Industry and Trade in its 1981 report on forests dealt with rainforest management and spent much time deliberating on rainforests, their management and conservation. Most Australians have a broad view of and very real interest in conservation, as they do in the nation as a whole. It must be looked at as to where it fits into the Australian nation. I commend the report as a very useful document from which research can be planned and from where a true inventory can be prepared. Those charged with the management of the country and of the forests can really settle in and start to do some meaningful work.