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Wednesday, 4 April 1973
Page: 1038

Mr MORRIS (SHORTLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES) - My question is directed to the Minister for the Environment and Conservation. Did His Royal Highness Prince Philip recently visit the sand mining operations in the Myall Lakes region of New South Wales? Has the Minister's attention been drawn to a Press release issued by the Leader of the Opposition in which he appears to have espoused the cause of unionists employed by a sand mining company in the Myall Lakes area of New South Wales? Has he stated that Commonwealth powers will be used to prevent sand mining operations which have been approved or may be approved in the future?

Dr CASS (MARIBYRNONG, VICTORIA) (Minister for the Environment and Conservation) - lt is true that Prince Philip visited the Myall Lakes area where sand mining is under way, and I have had my attention drawn to the statement by the Leader of the Opposition. At the moment the New South Wales State Planning Authority has declined permission for a mining company to mine the sands in the high dunes around the lakes area. The mining company has protested, and an appeal is being heard against the decision of the New South Wales State Planning Authority on this very question. It is being heard by Mr Bunning. Of course we are very interested in this. I am interested because as Minister for the Environment I was invited to visit the area and see what was involved, and I will make no more comments on the possible outcome of that inquiry at this stage. As for the question about whether we would use our powers to prevent the export of the products of mining, it has already been indicated by the Minister for Minerals and Energy that in cases when the national interest is best served by steps like that we will certainly take them, and in cases where it is necessary to protect the environment that decision will be taken only after a very careful consideration of all the factors. That is what the concept of environmental impact statements is about. If the balance is in favour of conserving an area, if needs be we could use those powers but. as I point out at this stage, that is irrelevant. The New South Wales State Planning Authority has declined permission for mining in the area, and at the moment an inquiry is proceeding into this very problem.

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