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Thursday, 17 October 1996
Page: 4463

Senator McKIERNAN(6.57 p.m.) —I endorse the comments made by my colleague who preceded me in this debate, Senator Bishop, and, indeed, the comments by my leader in the Senate, Senator Faulkner, earlier on this legislation before the chamber. I appreciate that there is not a great deal of time for me to make a contribution this evening. But, hopefully, at some time in the future, as a senator for Western Australia, I will have an opportunity to make a more in-depth and detailed contribution on this matter which is extremely important to the citizens of Western Australia.

My attention was drawn earlier today to a comment on the bottom of a pamphlet published earlier this year on the issue by the D'Entrecasteaux Coalition, an environmental group operating out of Denmark in Western Australia. On the bottom of the front page of the pamphlet, they make the statement which I wholeheartedly endorse:

If you haven't seen this breathtaking part of the State, set aside time to pay it a visit. The scenery is unforgettable.

They are obviously talking about the national park in the area.

The company, Cable Sands Western Australia, appear to appreciate that point of view as well. In a pamphlet which Senator Crane tabled earlier in the debate, they also draw attention to the environmental aspects of the area where sand mining is proposed. In that information document, they draw attention to the scientific surveys that have occurred: the hydrological study of Lake Jasper; the dieback survey; the vegetation studies; the fauna studies; and the Linnean studies of Lake Jasper. They also take account of the Aboriginal interests in the area, and I am quite appreciative that they do.

Some representatives of the company came to Canberra earlier this week and sought to meet with myself and other Labor senators from Western Australia. I was certainly glad I had the opportunity to meet them. I met with Mr Ken Mills and Mr Christopher Davies to discuss the matter and to have them put their points of view to me as a senator representing the state of Western Australia. I make this point very clearly so that there is no confusion: Mr Mills and Mr Davies left the consultation that I had with them under no misapprehension that no commitments were given one way or the other from myself to support their proposal for mining in that particular region of my state.

I have obviously followed the debate on the matter. It has been the subject of quite con siderable debate in Western Australia. My colleague Senator Bishop has referred to some of the debates that have taken place in both the upper house and the lower house of the state parliament. Unlike my colleagues in the state parliament of Western Australia, I have not had the opportunity to do an on-site inspection of the proposal. One of the things that I put to company representatives when I met with them on Monday of this week was that I would like to do not only an on-the-ground inspection, but when you look at a map of Lake Jasper, one appreciates that the only way you can get to it is by foot, so I would also like to fly over the area in order to get a proper appreciation.

In the pamphlet which Senator Crane tabled earlier, there is a photograph which shows the lake, the proposed mining area and the area that Cable Sands proposed to transfer in exchange for the area that they want to mine. Quite clearly and quite graphically, the photograph contained in the pamphlet shows some of the area that is being handed back. I thought it looked like an area that had been mined previously. It does not make a particularly pretty picture in the brochure that the company put out. The photographs contained in a different publication, to which I have had access, put the matter in a somewhat different light. But I do not think you could do any better than see what the proposal is all about at first hand.

The debate on the proposal for this project will go on for some considerable period. The debate in the Senate on this bill is a useful adjunct to that overall debate.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! The time allotted for the consideration of general business has expired.