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Wednesday, 11 October 1972
Page: 1432

Senator BYRNE (Queensland) - Because of remarks that have been made I think it important that I place on record for the Senate the very big advance that is implicit in the writing into the schedule of the agreement on this matter of the provision for environmental concern. This is a tremendous step forward. Admittedly, initially we tried to do more, but we must realise that the States have the primary responsibility of afforestation and that the Commonwealth is giving aid through the provision of finance. Therefore, any viable arrangement must be one which is in accord with the wishes of the State and the desires of the Commonwealth. If one attempted to impose its authority on the other the whole exercise would be accompanied by sheer disaster and would be nullified. Therefore, when this matter was considered further following the resolution and the acceptance of our amendment in this chamber, and the States had been consulted on it and had expressed their views, as they were entitled to do, it was only proper that the Parliament should consider those views. This has been done.

The amendment which now emerges, which is substantially the amendment which was initially proposed in this chamber by the Democratic Labor Party, has now the acceptance of the States. The States have agreed to the formal incorporation in a document of agreement of a provision that environmental factors should be considered when moneys provided by the Commonwealth are made available to the States for expenditure on afforestation projects. The States therefore have agreed to a forma) acknowledgment of their responsibilities in this field at the instance of the Commonwealth and of this Senate. That is a tremendous step forward and we should be gratified at the co-operation of the States, as we should be gratified at the initiative shown by this chamber of this Parliament and - if I may be pardoned for a slight element of vanity - at the initiative shown by the Democratic Labor Party in initially propounding the principle which is now incorporated in mutually acceptable terms in the schedule to the agreement which is before the Senate.

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