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Tuesday, 5 September 1989
Page: 946


Senator BURNS —My question is directed to the Minister for Resources. Is it possible or likely that sand mining will resume on Fraser Island off the Queensland coast? What information can the Minister provide in regard to this subject? What action has the Queensland Government taken regarding mining leases on Fraser Island?


Senator COOK —The first question was: Is it possible that there will be sand mining on Fraser Island? The direct answer to that question is: not while there is a Labor Government in Canberra. Whether there would be sand mining if a Liberal-National Party coalition government came to power is a question that could be answered in the affirmative. Yes, there would be.


Senator Chaney —On a point of order, Mr President: the Minister is, I am sure, out of order. In any event, he is clearly misquoting the policy position of the Opposition. He should be called to order and shut up.


Senator Puplick —He is just lying.


The PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Puplick, I ask you to withdraw that remark.


Senator Puplick —I withdraw, Mr President.


Senator COOK —Thank you, Mr President. I base those remarks on the fact that early in August the Opposition released its environment policy, in which it pledged itself to no sand mining on Fraser Island. Doubtless that is why Senator Puplick is so exercised on this subject. Shortly afterwards, the Opposition released its policy on resource and energy development, saying:

We will abolish all export controls on the minerals and metals sector including those applicable to iron ore. The only exception to this being uranium as specified in section 9.

In the absence of export controls there would be no mechanism through which the Federal Government would be able to prevent the product of sand mining on Fraser Island being exported. Thus, it would lack the power to prevent what the Queensland Government has done since 1987 in renewing the leases for sand mining on Fraser Island. We have an obvious commitment from the Queensland Government in that, despite the fact that there was no public consultation, and despite the fact that compensation was paid after the Fraser Government ban on sand mining on Fraser Island, it reissued the mining leases in 1987. If the Opposition's resource and minerals policy were to be implemented there would be no controls over the export of that mining output. Thus I can answer the question from Senator Burns by saying that if there was a coalition government there would certainly be export of mineral sands from the Fraser Island mining development.