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Tuesday, 10 October 1972
Page: 2277


Mr STEWART (Lang) - I appreciate the sentiments that have been expressed in this debate by a number of other honourable members on the need to preserve our environment and our ecology. Lack of thought on this matter in the past has caused many of our problems. It will perhaps take as long to cure those problems as it took to create them. But I would like to sound a warning. It is not a matter of ecology and environment versus development, but rather of ecology, environment and development. Our trees, waterways and lakes cannot figure so largely in our thoughts that people will not be provided with the services, amenities, standard of living and quality of life that they have come to expect in modern Australia. Therefore we should think in terms of ecology, environment and development.

With good grace on the part of eco.logists. environmentalists, developers and governments I think a lot of the problems can be solved. But at the moment it seems to me as though we are heading for a clash. This has happened in the United States of America, where protracted legal cases arise over many development projects that are absolutely essential for the continuation in that country of the plain, ordinary services that are required. The same thing could happen in Australia unless there is good grace on the part of governments, ecologists. environmentalists and the other people who at the moment seem to be lining up against each other.

It is to be accepted that, the way Australia is developing at the moment, we will require thousands of miles of highways. We will need more sewerage works. We will need to develop our natural resources - extract a greater amount of them from the ground. We will need to provide power so that our industry and domestic life can continue. T would like to give the Committee one example - that of power. Our electricity requirements in the last 12 years have doubled and by 1975 there will be something like 20,000 megawatts of generating capacity in Australia. If our electricity requirements continue to double every 12 years, by the year 2,000 we will require between 80,000 and 100,000 megawatts of generating capacity. So we will have a large number of power stations. VVhere will these stations be put, and for every station that is required will it be necessary to have protracted legal proceedings? Will construction be held up because the environmentalists and the eco.logists do not want them placed in particular locations? If these power stations are not constructed, and we do not get the generating capacity I mentioned, the whole nation could come to a standstill.

When we talk of power we talk of the primary energy resources - coal, uranium, natural gas and oil. Oil and coal are perhaps pollutants. People are afraid of uranium and nuclear energy because of the safety hazards that they present and also because of the waste materials. The provision of natural gas to the community will require the construction of long pipelines. The main pipeline under consideration at the moment is the Australian Gas Light Company's pipeline, which will stretch for something like 760 miles from South Aus tralia to New South Wales and will require along that length, I would suggest, a width of about 60 to 80 feet of territory. Naturally, trees will have to be pulled down and perhaps some of our waterways will be interfered with. Perhaps in some circumstances the pipeline will have to be constructed over the top of a mountain rather than being concealed. If there is to be a fight every time a development project is undertaken I am afraid we will be in for a long period of worry and fighting, and not development, in this country.

Too strict controls on environmental and ecological matters will create vast problems for governments and private industry in Australia. Mr John W. Simpson, the President of Power Systems Company, Westinghouse Electric Corporation, in America put it fairly well, I think, in a speech he made not so long ago when he said: lt' we lel ecology become a political football with legislators vying with one another to see who can get the cleanest anti-pollution bill on the books regardless of its consequences; or if we allow ourselves lo become panicky because some freelance writer has prophesied the collapse of our planet, then we are in trouble.

I have taken part in this debate today merely to sound the warning that it is not environment versus development; rather it is ecology, environment and development.







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