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Wednesday, 7 September 1983
Page: 528

Mr MILLAR(7.38) —I wish to speak this evening because of the keen apprehension being felt within the electorate of Wide Bay-more particularly in the Maryborough area-at the clear intention of the Fraser Island Defence Organisation, commonly known as FIDO, to involve the Federal Government in the pursuit of the objectives of FIDO to terminate the traditional logging of timber in the rain forests of Fraser Island. I would be the first to concede that my personal opinions as to the merits or demerits of such traditional logging would lack the status of an unimpeachable authority. I suggest to honourable members that if, in the brief time available to me, I read from a report by the commissioners of the Fraser Island inquiry which led to the termination of sand mining on Fraser Island, it should be accepted as authoritative and reliable advice in respect of rain forest logging on Fraser Island. I quote directly from the report and I earnestly invite honourable members to register these words in their minds:

A great deal of evidence was given to the Inquiry about forestry and sustained- yield logging activities on Fraser Island. The Commission was impressed both by the responsible attitude to Fraser Island which has been adopted over the years by the Queensland Department of Forestry and the harmonious working relationship that seems to exist between it and the Maryborough sawmilling companies which process most of the timber shipped from the Island. For example, there appears to be no lack of understanding or support for the strict controls imposed by the Department on the activities of logging contractors. No tree in the Forest reserve can be touched by a logging contractor without the express permission of the Department, whose officers indicate the precise direction in which each tree is to be felled so as to cause the last damage to the forest nearby. A condition imposed on some mining leases on the Island . . . is that the lessee must inform the District Forest Officer in writing one year prior to commencing mining operations within any State Forest area upon the land demised whereupon arrangements may be made to salvage any merchantable timber there. Other than that, and the general condition that the lessee shall conduct his operations in a manner that will no cause 'unnecessary damage to shrubs, trees or other flora' , mining companies are free to clear trees and shrubs without the express permission of the Department of Forestry.

I particularly draw honourable members' attention to this portion:

After inspecting the Island, the commission has come to the view that, in general, the visual integrity of Fraser Island has not been adversely affected by the carefully controlled logging operations. It seems likely that most visitors to the Island-apart from experienced botanists, ecologists or foresters -would be unaware that its timber resources have in fact been exploited for over a hundred years. Selective felling has virtually no visual impact except briefly at the actual site of operations (which is, of course, constantly shifting). The logs are trucked along unformed roads, made and maintaned by the Department of Forestry, to barging points on the west coast; these sites are simple and relatively unobtrusive since the vessels carry their own loading gear.

I suggest to honourable members that it would be a shocking miscarriage of justice if a community suffered the consequence of a decision by government based on a report, which simultaneously and virtually in glowing terms endorsed the practice of forestry log extraction over 100 years and envisages a continuation of that operation without detriment to the environment of Fraser Island.