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Thursday, 6 October 1983
Page: 1442

Mr REEVES(12.40) -The Department of Home Affairs and Environment is responsible through the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service for the Kakadu and Uluru National Parks in the Northern Territory. An amount of $4.152m has been allocated in this Budget for the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service. Uluru and Kakadu National Parks are unique and beautiful areas of the Northern Territory. Kakadu is on the World Heritage List at present and is of international significance. Over the past years, the Northern Territory Government has repeatedly claimed that both Kakadu and Uluru should be handed over to the Northern Territory Government. Of course, the Territory Conservation Commission currently manages the Uluru National Park.

There is some justification in the Northern Territory Government's argument. Basically it claims that national parks in all States are operated by State governments and, therefore, as a quasi State government it should operate the national parks in the Northern Territory. However, I believe Kakadu and Uluru are in a very special category. Kakadu is inextricably linked with the uranium issue. I will come back to that matter in a moment. As I said, Kakadu is on the World Heritage List. I hope in the very near future Uluru will be placed on that list. Both areas incorporate large tracts of Aboriginal traditional lands and are major national tourist attractions. For those reasons I believe it is important that a special form of management structure be set up to manage the two national parks. It cannot just be left to the Northern Territory Government or, for that matter, the Federal Government. I suggest a management authority should be set up in each area. This authority would be something like the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. It should contain representatives from the Northern Territory Government, the Federal Government, the Aboriginal traditional owners and the tourist industry. With a management structure like this I believe that the future development of these very significant world class areas will be assured. As a consolation prize, I hope the petty politicking that has been emanating from the Northern Territory Government over this issue might then cease.

I mentioned earlier that the Kakadu National Park is inextricably linked with the uranium issue. The main concern of the Australian Labor Party with uranium mining revolves around nuclear waste. Whether the waste is used to make nuclear arms or is dumped in the Pacific Ocean, our major concern is still nuclear waste . Last week I suggested to the Minister for Resources and Energy (Senator Walsh) that a fund should be established to finance research and development into nuclear waste disposal technology.

I suggested that the existing producers should contribute towards this fund on a levy basis. I also suggested that those companies which wished to exploit Australia's uranium reserves should also put forward money to the fund to find a solution to this very serious problem. I am pleased to say that the Minister reacted very favourably to my suggestion. I think that the suggestion will allow the mining companies to demonstrate their real concern for the world-wide serious problems associated with their industry and also associated with this resource. It is a resource of which Australia has a major part of the world supply. The mining companies want to exploit it and make a large amount of money out of it. In other words, my proposal offers them an opportunity to show how responsible they are and to put their money where their mouth is.

The CHAIRMAN —Order! It being 12.45 p.m., the debate is adjourned in accordance with sessional order 101A. The debate may be resumed at a later hour.

Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2 p.m.