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Thursday, 12 April 1973
Page: 1449

Mr FOX (Henty) - I commend the Minister for the Environment and Conservation (Dr Cass) and the Government for moving for the establishment of this Committee. Again it will more or less take over from a select committee of the last Parliament which it was my privilege to chair. I pay a tribute to all members of that Committee. It was a very dedicated Committee comprising members from the 3 parties represented in this House. I would like to think that we achieved something worth while. One of the recommendations made by that Committee when it tabled its report was that the Parliament should establish a standing committee to which controversial matters could be referred, and I see a great deal of value in this. Some of them that come to mind quickly are Lake Pedder, Cooloola Sands and the wood chip industry, just to name 3 of them. If it is a committee of this Parliament to which the Government can refer its controversial matters it could and should take a great deal of pressure off the Government, because it can look at these matters impartially and on their own merits.

I believe that in Australia we have a chance to learn from some of the mistakes which have been made by other countries. There is a very good reason why very many more people are conscious of pollution of the environment now than there were 5 or 6 years ago. The world population is doubling every 35 years. People themselves mean pollution because people must have factories to provide their requirements. These factories have been discharging pollution into the rivers and streams; they have been pouring smoke into the air. We are destroying fields and trees to put down roads to accommodate the motor vehicles which, too, are causing pollution. As the population of the world increases very rapidly we have to be conscious of the fact that we are making an environment that will be there for generations to come. People are entitled to live in a clean environment, but if they want to live in a clean environment they ought to be prepared to pay for it. If this means that we have to require industry to spend more money on up-to-date equipment to eliminate or reduce pollution and this means an increase in the price of goods, people have to be prepared to pay for it. '

One can travel hundreds or even a thousand miles or more in this country, and one can even go out into the outback 100 miles from Alice Springs and find roads and areas where no roads exist which are cluttered with bottles, non-degradable containers and cans. There are countries in which laws have been passed to make it an offence to sell something in a non-returnable container. Other countries are a great deal stricter with regard to people who throw their rubbish out on to the roads. I believe that a committee such as has been set up could act as a watchdog for a clean environment. I am all in favour of it. I hope I am fortunate enough to become a member of it.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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