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Monday, 22 October 1973
Page: 2465

Mr BOURCHIER (Bendigo) - Tonight the Committee is debating the estimates of the Department of the Environment and Conservation. It is most interesting to note that the total expenditure of the Department this year is estimated to be $1,729,000. A large part of that sum is for administration but that is to be expected seeing that a separate department has been set up to deal with this field. It is interesting to note that in subdivision 3, dealing with other services, the River Murray Commission is to receive $19,000 as a contribution towards expenses; $270,000 is to be spent on water resources research; and the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service is to receive $100,000. I applaud the Government for proposing this expenditure but more particularly for its grants in aid, set out in subdivision 4, which to me represent the function of a Federal government in this sphere. Under that subdivision $150,000 is for the Australian Conservation Foundation and $100,000 is for grants to other conservation organisations, and those provisions augur well for the future of this Department. An interesting item in this subdivision is the provision of $20,000 for the Keep Australia Beautiful Council. I understand that many industries subscribe to this organisation to assist in the campaign to keep Australia beautiful. Unfortunately members of the general public do not seem to be aware that they also can participate and do something to keep our country beautiful. We find that there is much litter around.

However tonight I particularly want to speak about the disposal of waste. As we all know, waste disposal is becoming an increasingly large problem to many city and shire councils. Apparently two or three different methods of waste disposal are being used. One is the land fill method; I think most of us are aware of it. But unfortunately today the cost of a hole is becoming far greater than the cost of actual land. In the near future the major cities will be faced with the immense problem of how to dispose of waste because they cannot buy holes in the ground. The Australian Government can provide immense assistance in this field. I know that the Minister for the Environment and Conservation (Dr Cass) could not do so out of the amount that his Department has been allocated this year but obviously this point will arise again later.

In my view the Department of the Environment and Conservation ultimately will become a most important and integral part of our future. I believe that the Australian Government will be asked to provide assistance in the way of both money and expertise to help the major cities, and the towns and the cities in the country areas, to overcome this looming problem. In some States the land fill method is not of great significance because many vast waste areas are scattered around which could be used for this purpose. However in New South Wales and Victoria in particular, where the population is of greater density, the number of holes available for land fill is diminishing very smartly. As a result town and city councils are being forced to look at such processes as incineration.

It may be all right for the cities of Sydney and Melbourne to look at incineration methods on a large scale. Very sophisticated systems of incineration are required if they are to be successful in combating the problem of polluting the atmosphere as many incinerators do. However I understand that some very expensive incinerators can be purchased and used to burn the various wastes at a very intense heat &o that there is an absolute minimum of atmospheric pollution. In this way too I can see a future for this Australian Government in its role of protecting the environment and conservation in that the Department will provide the expertise and the funds to help the smaller shires and also councils in the suburbs of the cities to provide this necessary means of disposing of their waste.

A third method of waste disposal is the recycling system. This again requires expensive machinery if it is to be effective. It is not just a matter of saying: 'OK, we will recycle the rubbish*, lt is not that easy. The Minister's hands are perhaps tied in this field so far as doing something practical is concerned but he certainly can provide the expertise. His Department can investigate the best possible methods of dealing with this great waste disposal problem. I am sure that if some of the money provided under this appropriation could be devoted to a study to bring forward the expertise necessary to dispose of rubbish Australia will have gained a great deal from that expenditure.

Proposed expenediture agreed to.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Berinson) - Order! It being 15 minutes to 11 o'clock, in accordance with the order of the House, I shall report progress.

Progress reported.

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