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Monday, 26 November 1973
Page: 3800

Mr DOYLE (LILLEY, QUEENSLAND) - My question is directed to the Minister for the Environment and Conservation and I preface it by referring to a proposal by Queensland Cement and Lime Co Pty Limited to establish a coral crushing plant at MacArthur Avenue, Meeandah at the mouth of the Brisbane River. I understand that an environmental impact study has been carried out, though it appears that the company has not released the report. As there is evidence of grave concern that the establishment of the proposed plant will result in air pollution affecting a large residential area of Brisbane, I ask the Minister: Has the Australian Government power to intervene with a view to preventing the construction of this plant? If so, will the Minister take appropriate action to protect those people of Brisbane whose life quality may be impaired as a result of the proposed coral crushing plant becoming established?

Dr CASS (MARIBYRNONG, VICTORIA) (Minister for the Environment and Conservation) - This is a good illustration of the confusion that reigns about problems like this and the part which the Australian Govern ment can and cannot play. My attention has been drawn to the report and it seems that the usual blame game is being entered into with the City Council on the one hand blaming the State Government and the State Government on the other hand blaming the City Council for the fact that the works are to be established. Of course, it is difficult to ascertain where the blame really lies but the point is that it does lie at State and local government level and not at Australian Government level. There is nothing that this Government can do because it is purely a State matter. The only sense of realism in this matter has been injected by the Secretary of the Building Workers Industrial Union who pointed out that unionists are likely to withdraw their labour because they take the view that an industry which is potentially dangerous to the health of people, or could have a deleterious effect on the environment should not be established until an environmental impact statement has been prepared and published so that the community can see it and comment on it. I understand that a statement has been prepared but no one has seen it. In line with our policy I certainly endorse the attitude of the building workers. Because of the potentially hazardous nature of the proposed plant, the environmental impact study ought to be freely published and the community should be able to comment upon it. Then, and only then, should the matter be considered for further prosecution. However, I emphasise again that there is nothing which the Australian Government can do about it. It is strictly a State responsibility.

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