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Tuesday, 6 April 1971

Senator DAVIDSON (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Vice-President of the Executive Council. It relates to the Office of the Environment, which is within the purview of the VicePresident of the Executive Council.

Senator Poyser - It does not exist. We have not passed the Bill yet.

Senator DAVIDSON - Has the Minister studied reports of pollution of the ocean off the Sydney coast? Will he refer to the report of the Senate Select Committee on Water Pollution in respect of a national authority which would have an influence on the standards of effluent finding its way into the ocean? Will he ask the Office of the Environment to take up with the authorities in New South Wales the serious nature of the present pollution of the ocean and seek an early solution to the situation?


Perhaps I could respond first to an interjection I happened to hear when the honourable senator was asking his question. Honourable senators will recall that, when I announced on behalf of the Prime Minister the various functions of Ministers, it was indicated that pending the shape of things to come questions on environmental matters would be dealt with by myself as representative of the Prime Minister in the Senate. Coming now to the substance of the question, last week the Senate adopted a resolution to create a standing committee to deal with environmental matters. Some of the matters referred to by Senator Davidson possibly would come within the framework of that committee. I have sent to you, Sir, a memorandum containing the names of the Government senators who will serve on that committee. I have no doubt that the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate and the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party will have done the same thing. It may be early days for that committee. The problem in Sydney is caused by any industrial dispute* involving employees of the Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board.

Senator Poyser - The Minister is taking the easy way out.

Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON - If the honourable senator lived in the Sydney metropolitan area he would know that what I say is true. The fact of the matter is that raw sewage-

Senator Poyser - Why do you not sack the boss?

Senator Sir KENNETHANDERSONIt is obvious that I am not going to be allowed to finish my answer. In those circumstances I shall rely on the answer that I have already given.

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