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Thursday, 14 October 1971
Page: 2439

Dr GUN (Kingston) - 1 want to speak about a very important matter relating to the environment but first I want to register my disappointment and dismay at the reply given by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) to a question asked of him a couple of weeks ago by my colleague, the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford). The Prime Minister was asked about the views expressed by Professor Ehrlich on the television programme 'Monday Conference'. The Prime Minister admitted that he had not taken very much note of what Professor Ehrlich had said and that he was not very impressed by that which he had noted. I hope that the Prime Minister and the Government will look at the matter suggested by the honourable member for Adelaide to see whether, in their opinion, there is any substance in what Professor Ehrlich said and whether the Government should take action to try to prevent population problems affecting Australia and other countries.

I was a bit saddened last night when we were discussing this matter when my colleague the honourable member for Maribyrnong (Dr Cass) raised this problem. I think a lot of honourable members on the Government side regarded it as one great big yawn. One Country Party member said: 'You fellows are all prophets of doom'. It rather surprised me to hear this and I think a lot of Government supporters have their priorities completely out of order. They spend a tremendous amount of time worrying about such things as the presence of the Soviet navy in the Indian Ocean - we heard about this matter at question time this morning - of the tremendous threat it represents to Australia. As a result the Government plans to spend at least $80m on a naval base at Cockburn Sound and a lot more to try to arm ourselves against the Soviet navy. In my view the danger to Australia and the rest of the world from ecological disaster is about 10 times as great as the danger from the Soviet navy. I believe we ought to put our defence priorities on a more reasonable level. The risk from ecological problems is probably much greater and that is the direction in which we should be spending more of our money.

I want particularly to draw the attention of the Government and the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts (Mr Howson) to a unique area called Hallett Cove in my electorate in South Australia. In case honourable members are not familiar with Hallett Cove, it is an area on the coast near metropolitan Adelaide which is of unique geological interest. For that reason there is a strong desire on the part of many people in Adelaide - I think I can safely say the majority of concerned people in Adelaide - that it be preserved as an area of scientific interest. It is also an area of considerable anthropological interest containing remnants of Aboriginal tribal sites, and there is botanical interest there as well. It is also a quite unique beauty spot except for certain derelict shacks which, fortunately, are to be demolished very shortly. In relation to this area I would like to quote from a document prepared by the South Australian Science Teachers Association. It states:

Hallett Cove is unique. There ' would be no other site in South Australia, and few in the world, where so many geological features are evident in such a compact area.

Geological phenomena happen on a large scale Hallett Cove is a microcosm of a large variety of geomorphological and geological phenomena. Because of its Permian glacial deposits the region has world-wide significance. It is the best preserved Permian glacial deposit in Australia and should be kept as a well protected unit to enable intercontinental correlation. It is one key in the development of theories of the Earth's changes as a whole and not just in a specific locality, state or continent.

This area of Hallett Cove is now under threat from housing development. Unfortunately, most of the land, except that immediately in the area of scientific development, is owned by a couple of development companies, and the development that is intended there and certain proposed foreshore development is considerably threatening the area. Some 51 acres of the area have been proclaimed by the South Australian Government as an area of scientific interest, and it is expected that the South Austraiian Government will purchase that area. It is also suggested that the Government might purchase an area around this as a buffer zone. However, the South Australian Science Teachers Association and many other people who support it have recommended that the whole area in question should be preserved. It is the feeling of the Association that if only this area of 51 acres is preserved, its unique features will soon disappear. So the Association has recommended that a larger area should be preserved in its natural state, and it recommends the following boundaries for the area: The western boundary, the present shoreline; the northern boundary, the northern boundary already marked off by the Hallett Cove model estate; the eastern boundary, the Port Stanvac railway line; and the southern boundary, the existing road known as Grand Central Drive and a line extended from the end of this road to the shoreline.

The South Australian Government is examining the question of purchasing not only this area of scientific interest but also the buffer zone around it. However, it is felt that there could be a danger in this; that even this area would not be sufficient to preserve the area as a unit. I am suggesting that the Commonwealth Government could give assistance to help to purchase the whole of the area in order to preserve it for posterity and also for the present generation, particularly the school children who visit the area in their thousands every year. The land in question can be preserved only if the Government purchases it. The cost of purchasing the land is pretty high; it could well be as high as $lm. I am hoping that it will not be as high as that, and I would hate to see that amount pass into the hands of a land development company, but this possibly could happen. If it does, I believe that it may be out of the financial ability of the South Australian Government to pay for it. I should like to see the Commonwealth assist, if it can, to try to help purchase this land. I would suggest that perhaps if the South Australian Government purchased the 51 acres and the buffer zone around it, the Commonwealth might assist in purchasing the remaining areas which extend to the boundaries which I have mentioned.

I would like to emphasise most strongly that it is important that this area be preserved as a unit. The South Australian Science Teachers Association stated:

It is most important that students see the points of interest at the Cove in their natural setings. It is quite impossible to get any 'feeling' for such a place if it has been built upon by so-called developers' . . .

A teacher would rind it impossible to convey adequately any 'feeling' for the Aboriginal camp sites of that area as it has now been developed. This same state of affairs will eventuate at Hallett Cove unless the cove, with our proposed buffer zone, is reserved immediately.

I should like to see this area preserved by the Government as a whole unit. It could be regarded, in a sense, as a science laboratory, because it is an open air science laboratory. Its cost, I might say, is only about two or three times the cost of building conventional science laboratories which are paid for partly by the Commonwealth Government. I ask the Government to have a look at this matter. It was pointed out by the Prime Minister yesterday when he was replying to a question from the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) that, in addition to using powers of persuasion, the Commonwealth could act on environmental matters by advancing certain funds.

I see that in the Estimates this year wishing has been advanced for this sort of thing. I think that in this regard there is really a tremendous amount of good that the Commonwealth could do. This area is a national asset. I think that the Australian people would not be unwilling to help to pay some of the cost of preserving it for all of the people of Australia. I ask the Government to have a good look at this problem. Perhaps, as it is an educational problem, the Minister might like to confer with his colleague, the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser), to see whether a recommendation could be made to the Government to help the South Australian Government to purchase this asset for the people of Australia.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Cope) - Order! The honourable member's time has expired.

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