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Wednesday, 14 November 1973
Page: 3360

Mr ADERMANN (Fisher) - I want to take the opportunity as a backbencher to bring a matter to the attention of the House. I think it is a matter of great historical importance. Honourable members might have read that just off the coast of Mooloolaba at the moment are 3 balsa rafts forming what is known as the La Balsa expedition. This is rather an interesting expedition in that 12 scientists are making a trip by raft from Ecuador to Australia to show that it is not only possible but also probable that in primitive days such a trip was made. A similar trip was made some years ago by one raft.

The leader of the present expedition is Vital Alsar. He is leading a multi-national expedition, with 5 nationalities represented in it.

I do not want to take a lot of time on this matter, but I should like to bring it to the attention of the Government, for I believe that this is an historic occasion. The members of the expedition mortgaged their homes and sold everything they had in order to pay for the construction of the rafts to enable them to make this important journey in the interests of science and history. Having made it, and Australia having been associated with it, they would like the rafts to stay in this country. I know that many overseas governments and persons are interested in acquiring these rafts because of their historical value. However, as the members of the expedition would like the rafts to stay in Australia I ask the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and the Government to consider well the question whether these rafts should be acquired. It has been suggested to me that one raft could be placed at Mooloolaba, where the landing will be made, one could be placed perhaps in Sydney, and one in the national museum.

An interesting fact is that on the mast of one of the rafts is a painting that was painted for the expedition by Salvador Dali. It depicts a dolphin towing these 3 rafts. That painting also is for sale. I suggest that this is a national effort. It has some historical and scientific value. As the Prime Minister has told us that the 'Blue Poles' painting that has been bought by the Australian Government has now increased in value because of the controversy surrounding it and the time lapse, I suggest that this painting and these rafts also could increase in value because of their historical value.

I suggest that the Government might well watch the progress of this expedition, and that the Government and the Parliament could send a message of congratulations to the men on the rafts when they land on the beautiful Sunshine Coast in my electorate. I think that the Government could well consider the historical and scientific aspects of this experiment and the question whether the 3 rafts should be preserved for Australia. I hope that the Prime Minister is listening, because I told him that I wanted to raise this matter this evening. I think that it is an important matter. I think that it is something that is very significant in Australian history. I hope that the Government will consider what I have said tonight.

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