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Thursday, 22 May 1980
Page: 3111

Mr HODGMAN (Denison) - It is with some considerable enthusiasm and optimism that I join this debate, albeit briefly. Like the honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman) I am proud of the fact that Australia has had a direct contact with the Antarctic since the year 1810 when Captain Fred Hasselburg discovered Macquarie Island, which, of course, is part of Tasmania and that Australia is playing a very prominent role in the discussions, negotiations, treaties and conventions which will lay down the guidelines for the administration of the Antarctic into the twenty-first century.

Macquarie Island is in the electorate of Franklin and I place on record the support that I have had from my colleague, the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Goodluck), with respect to a number of initiatives. These have led to a situation in which I can say in this Parliament tonight that not only Australia but also Tasmania, as the southernmost State and closest in proximity to the Antarctic, is now on the world map. I am delighted that the Minister for Science and the Environment, David Thomson, is at the table in the chamber tonight. It has been his great privilege to be Minister at a time when very important decisions have been taken with respect to the Antarctic. I intend to refer to them briefly.

Some four years ago I achieved fairly wide Press headlines by making the comment that, unless the countries of the world made proper arrangements for the management of the Antarctic, it was quite conceivable that World War III could be fought over its resources in the twentyfirst century. At the time many people regarded that statement as outlandish, but I wonder how many people listening to this broadcast tonight realise that in the waters surrounding the Antarctic there is more fish protein than is found in the total world catch today and that there are on the Antarctic continent fuel and mineral resources which would justify its being described as the gold mine of the world resources. The Antarctic will play a most important role in determining the kind of world that we will have in the twentyfirst century.

A number of initiatives including, as I have always conceded, the very first came from my predecessor in this House, the former honourable member for Denison, Mr John Coates. He put forward publicly for the first time the proposition that the headquarters of the Antarctic Division of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, hitherto located at four sites in Melbourne, should be transferred to Hobart and specifically Kingston. I have always given the honourable member credit for making that proposal, which was picked up by our Government and made a personal commitment by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) at a very difficult time. There was a number of problems concerning the Public Works Committee hearing, as well as logistic problems to be overcome. The fact is that a magnificent Antarctic Division headquarters is being constructed at Kingston, Tasmania, will be completed four months ahead of schedule and handed over to the division early next year.

Next Tuesday the Minister for Science and the Environment will travel to Hobart with several members of the Public Works Committee, including the Deputy Chairman, the honourable member for Burke (Mr Keith Johnson), for the official opening of the analytical laboratories, the first section of the division to be completed. As a result of that decision, which involved an expenditure of $ 10m for the establishment of what I can now say publicly is a complex of international prestige, the complex has been seen by international experts. Representatives of the 15 Antarctic Treaty nations travelled to Hobart a fortnight ago with a view to inspecting potential sites for the headquarters of the International Antarctic Commission. The group travelled to Kingston and saw this superb scientific complex of international standing.

What has followed that visit? The decision to establish in Kingston the headquarters of the Antarctic Division has become the catalyst for some of the most exciting developments that could ever occur in Australia or Tasmania. I commend the Minister and the Government upon the commitment to establish the magnificent $25m CSIRO marine science laboratories in Hobart. That establishment has been drawn logically to that part of Australia by the establishment of the Antarctic Division headquarters there.

The historic decision, reached this week, to establish the headquarters of the International Antarctic Commission in Hobart, has really put Tasmania, Hobart and the federal electorate of Denison on the world map. The decision has been hailed on both sides of the House and in both Houses of Parliament. I believe that the Minister at the table, his predecessor and the Prime Minister especially, are entitled to the acclamation and gratitude of the people of not just Tasmania but also Australia for proposing Hobart as the site for the International Antarctic Commission's headquarters.

I wish to refer to one man who cannot stand up here and seek credit. I place on record my belief that without the work of Ambassador Keith Brennan, a distinguished Australian diplomat, who led our delegation to the Antarctic conference on marine living resources in Canberra during the last fortnight, one who has headed Australian delegations to the United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea, the establishment of the international headquarters would not have occurred.

I must also place on record the gratitude of all delegates to the Antarctic conference to Ambassador John Ryan, the chairman of that historic conference, which concluded on Tuesday with the signing of the international convention which effectively is the successor of the 1 959 Antarctic Treaty. The international convention is intimately interwoven with the objectives of this Bill, in that the convention deals with the marine living resources of the Antarctic. The Bill before us deals specifically with the Antarctic Treaty environment protection aspects of the continent itself.

My time is short but I wish to make certain predictions as to what will happen. The establishment of the headquarters of the International Antarctic Commission can proceed as soon as eight of the 1 5 Antarctic nations ratify the convention that was signed in Canberra this week. I am convinced- and I believe that all Australians will rejoice in the knowledge- that individual nations will now wish to establish their own Antarctic embassies, as I call them- their own Antarctic bases- in proximity to the international headquarters. One can imagine what it will mean to have 15 or 20 international Antarctic embassies or bases in southern Tasmania, at a cost of possibly $10m apiece, with an annual recurrent expenditure running into millions and millions of dollars, and with delegates coming from all over the world up to four times a year for conventions, treaty meetings and the like. The prospects for Tasmania and Australia internationally with respect to the management of the Antarctic are almost beyond one 's comprehension.

I wish finally to refer to two matters in particular. Argentina proposed an alternative site to Australia's nomination of Hobart. It did not pursue the matter but has submitted a bid for the possible establishment at Mar del Plata in that country of the international headquarters of the commission which will deal with the mineral and fuel resources of the Antarctic. If for any reason Argentina is not acceptable, or is unable to provide the site at the appropriate time, I suggest strongly that that commission should be headquartered in Hobart adjacent to the body which will deal with the continent's marine and living resources.

Lastly -

Mr Innes - Finally -

Mr HODGMAN - I know that my colleague from Melbourne will be interested in this aspect also. The International Law of the Sea Tribunal has not yet been given a home. I propose officially and formally to the Government of Australia that Hobart should be offered as the world headquarters for that tribunal. I take the interjections of the honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Innes) in good part because I know that he wants to see good things happen for Australia and Tasmania. I commend the Minister, who is known in Tasmania as the $34m Minister, because that is the value the State of the decisions that have come to fruition during the early part of his term as Minister. I hope that he will make the sum $100m before he is moved to another portfolio. I support the Bill.

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