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Thursday, 1 June 1972
Page: 2457

Senator BYRNE (Queensland) - At this late stage of the sitting of the Senate in this sessional period it is not my intention to speak at length. The Australian Institute of Marine Science Bill is most important for Queensland and Australia. Although the Institute of Marine Science will be established on the far north coast of Queensland it will not be an institute which will be confined purely to an examination of the marine life in that area. But that will be one of its prime concerns because of the richness of that life and its variety and because of oceanographic and other features. This Institute will be available for marine research for the whole of Australia. The Minister for Works (Senator Wright) in his second reading speech drew attention to the fact that marine scientists may resort there in general for investigations and to conduct research. Therefore this is a matter of national import. We in Queensland are naturally pleased and proud that the Institute has been set up in our State. Northern Queensland is particularly complimented that the Institute has been set up in that part of the Commonwealth. At this time, in general terms, Australia is carrying out the very important job of making an assessment of its national resources.

In this chamber various committees have been established to investigate many aspects of Australian political and administrative life. These committees are moving in the direction of establishing what is required by Australia for Australians at this period of our history. Committees are examining our social services programme, our financial programme, our financial structures, our legal and constitutional relations, domestic law and matters of that character. Now we have a committee which is examining the ownership of Australian resources. The Australian Institute of Marine Science Bill in establishing an organisation such as this Institute of Marine Science is a Bil] which again tends in the same direction. It is to establish an body which will examine the marine resources of Australia and, more particularly, this part of Australia. If we propose to plan the future of this Commonwealth as it should be planned for the next 100 years it is important that al this stage an assessment be made over all aspects of Australian life. 1 welcome this Bill, apart from its intrinsic and individual merits, as a Bill in consonance with the new national approach and the approach taken in this chamber.

I point out that the ambit of the operations of the Institute will not only be confined to the littoral waters, the bays and estuaries, but also will reach out to examine the deep waters which lie off our coast, the fish in those waters, the flow of the currents and the tides and all those things which have an effect upon marine life and which also have a profound effect upon Australian commerce and, to some extent, its relations with other countries. We know that Austrafia has not been particularly alert in mobilising the marine resources which lie around this vast continental shelf. We know that other nations have been more alert to the possibilities and potentials here. At times we have had trouble in policing areas which are within our constitutional jurisdiction. Yet it has been rather difficult to justify some of our actions in the light of our own disinterest in these very rich resources with which others are more acquainted than we are ourselves. An Institute such as this will in part, set about to remedy the situation and give Australians an awareness of this new area of riches which surrounds the continent. We are indebted to the Interim Council which made the necessary preliminary investigations on which the legislation is founded. I am somewhat at a loss in relation to a statement contained in the

Minister's second reading speech. Perhaps he would be good enough to give his attention to this matter for a moment. Apparently there are still matters which require investigation and recommendation. The Minister, in his second reading speech stated:

The Bill does not of course deal with the equipment which will be essential to the work of the Institute. The nature of that equipment is a matter for discussion and decision by the Council and the Director of the Institute;

In the Minister's second reading speech the word 'Council' is used in 2 ways. There is to be the permanently established, final Council which will control the Institute and there is the Interim Council.

Senator Keeffe - Some of that is included in the recommendations of the Interim Council.

Senator BYRNE - Yes. I was just wondering whether it is the Interim Council which is to go into the matter of equipment or whether it will be left to the Marine Council when it finally operates. If it is the former - the Interim Council - as far as I can see it is functus officio. Therefore 1 imagine that its ability to do this work has ceased and that it will go out of operation. Therefore it cannot be entrusted with the work which the Council is to do. When the Minister replies in this debate he might be kind enough to inform me of the actual position. I am delighted to see that the Institute is to co-ordinate and expand the activities of many other bodies both public and private which already operate in this field. I have had the opportunity of being at Mourilyan Harbour and seeing the investigations being carried out into the starfish and the Great Barrier Reef by dedicated marine biologists who are doing a magnificent job. But it is a job which is being done in isolation. There is nothing more difficult for an academic than to feel that he is working in intellectual isolation. But now with this Institute which is being created, a unit such as that at Mourilyan Harbour and interested private organisations will have an intellectual academic home at the James Cook University to which they can resort as one family investigating these important matters.

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, the Commonwealth Fisheries and Extension Services Division, no doubt the Queensland

Fisheries Branch and appropriate departments in that State and, perhaps, departments in other States will contribute to and work in co-operation with the new Institute. I imagine that it has a magnificient future and opportunity to do a worthwhile job for Australia in the discovery, expansion and protection of our marine resources. I do not wish to protract this debate. I welcome the advent of this Bill. The amount of money provided is a very substantial sum. I am sure that the Institute will prove a worthwhile national investment. The Bill is welcomed enthusiastically by the people of Queensland. It will be particularly welcomed by the people of northern Queensland because, quite apart from the unit itself, it will stimulate the interest of the Australian people in northern Queensland which, geographically, is somewhat remote and where, sometimes, there is a feeling of isolation. I think that the advertence to the peed for an Institute such as this is probably some years belated. The Council has done a magnificent job. On behalf of the Australian Democratic Labour Party I express our indebtedness to the distinguished members of the Interim Council who made the necessary preliminary investigations. I am sure that they will be gratified that, substantially, their findings and recommendations are being carried into legislative effect by this Bill. I do hope that the Institute will nourish. I am sure that it will prove of immense value to Australia.

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