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Wednesday, 16 August 1972
Page: 90

Senator MULVIHILL (New South Wales) - The official Opposition regards this amendment as a natural corollary to the amendment which we sponsored at the second reading stage. Without being impertinent to anybody, I want to say at the outset that when I saw this united front tonight for the cause of conservation I thought of Leon Blum in the French Parliament before World War II. Having said that, I want to question what I. felt was Senator Cotton's undue solicitation for State forestry officers. I regard them as very dedicated men, but I believe it is a cardinal concept of the Commonwealth Parliament that if the Commonwealth provides the money it should have the overriding determination of how it shall be spent and what the ground rules shall be. I. think that the United States Senate abounds with situations in which it tags on certain qualifications when federal money has gone back to the States. 1 believe that is a good thing because all State Premiers, irrespective of the party they represent, have tended at times to get their issues a little blurred.

My very good friend, Senator Keeffe, referred to the frequent intrusion of our own native timber forests. The fact of the matter is this is a problem that has worried us. Senator Webster by way of interjection was trying to pin down Senator Byrne on the practical application of his proposal, and my intervention, quite apart from the broad principles contained in this amendment, was concerned with the gut issue so far as New South Wales is concerned. I do not cavil with Senator Cotton's knowledge of the area and his mobility in the area but I say respectfully that there may be death bed repentances when some of the city slickers visit the area as members of the Colong Committee. We do have some knowledge of the area. The Minister referred to the limitations of the old forests and the depredations of bush fires and all that sort of thing but I would point out to him that the fears of the conservationists could be symbolised in a paragraph from a 'Save Colong' bulletin which briefly read:

The soil on the Boyd is granite-derived and gravelly. The effect of clearing similar land on the Upper Cox is seen in the flow of gravel down that stream into the Warragamba Dam.

If we are to have the choice between desolate areas and pine plantations I do not question that we should have pine plantations, but I believe that in the tooling up for the pine plantations, for want of a better term, there is an aggravation of soil erosion and, for the sake of the acreage involved, I believe that we could have this 11th hour saving of the Boyd Plateau.

I do not want to hold up this discussion unduly. We have the united front of the conservationists who have talked to the amendment and Senator Byrne's proposal in effect provides for a form of mediation or arbitration in relation to conservation issues. I could make my reply by asking for the leave of the Senate to incorporate in Hansard 3 small paragraphs, which I have called (a), (b) and (c), of a pamphlet called 'Park or Pines?' To use the legal jargon, the defence would rest on those 3 paragraphs. I am optimistic enough to believe that in the calm of tomorrow when Senator Cotton browses through Hansard and he has to explain to his fellow Ministers what the amendment meant, if this arbitration structure on environment or conservation is carried-

Senator Keeffe - Are you sure we are not being caught by the Temporary Chairman on this?

Senator MULVIHILL - If we adopt your words of wisdom, Mr Temporary Chairman, and do as Senator Byrne suggests, which is to call clause 9 clause 3 or graft it on to clause 3 - I am looking ahead - we have a certain form of tribunal which will look at conservation issues. So, whether this amendment should be made to clause 3 of the Bill or clause 9 of the Agreement I leave to my legal betters such as Senator Murphy and possibly other honourable senators in the chamber. But at the moment I am advocating what I regard as a suitable form of arbitration which will save the Boyd Plateau. Therefore I ask for permission for what I have called clauses (a), (b) and (c) of the pamphlet 'Park or Pines?' to be incorporated in Hansard. The paragraph I have called clause (a) refers to a dispute between the New South Wales Minister for Conservation and conservationists. Clause (b) refers to alternative sites. I like to be practical and to offer another idea to Senator Cotton. Clause (c) refers to native forests and the future of native birds, plants and animals. I ask for permission for these 3 small clauses to be incorporated in Hansard.

Senator Cotton - I would be happy to agree if the honourable senator would give the name of the pamphlet and the author to whom it is attributed.

Senator MULVIHILL - The author of this pamphlet is the Colong Committee. The senior officer bearers are the Secretary, Milo Dunphy, who is well known to Sydney people, and the Chairman, Rev. Fr Tierney. We have an ecumenical unity ticket there.

Senator Cotton - Thank you. That will cover the matter from my point of view.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Wood - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.

The document reads as follows:

(a)   Mr Bealehas claimed that a meeting of representatives of interested Government Department and conservation bodies decided in favour of planting pines on the Boyd in 1963. This is not so. The question of planting pines was raised at the 1963 meeting because the forest had been damaged by a phasmatic infestation and fire, but was rejected because of the excellent re-generation of the eucalypt.


(b)   It is evident that the Forestry Commission has made no serious attempt to find alternatives to the Boyd Plateau for pine planting. In April 1970, the Colong Committee located 10,600 acres of suitable land 40 miles from Oberon by a good road, available for sale at $6 an acre. This price contrasts with the 'well in excess of $55 an acre' which Mr Beale has stated alternative land would cost. Negotiations by the Forestry Commission for purchase of part of this land had reached the final stages when they were abruptly broken off at a high departmental level.

(c)   The native forest of the Boyd supports hundreds of species of native plants, animals and birds. It carries a richer grass cover than the steep gorges of the rest of the park and consequently supports more of the larger grazing species of native animals, such as kangaroos, wallabies and wombats.

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