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Tuesday, 20 November 1973
Page: 1944

Senator Wright asked the Special Minister of State, upon notice:

(a)   on what date was a Royal Commission issued to Mr Justice Wallace to inquire into matters affecting the Great Barrier Reef;

(   b ) what were the terms of reference;

(c)   when is a report expected to be received;

(   d ) what is the cost to date (or some recent convenient date )

(i)   of Mr Justice Wallace's fees;

(   ii ) of his travel expenses;

(iii)   of other Commissioners' fees and travel expenses; and

(iv)   other expenses of the Commission.

Senator Willesee - The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(a)   May 5, 1970

(   b) The terms of reference are as follows:

(   1 ) Taking into account existing world technology in relation to drilling for petroleum and safety precautions relating thereto, what risk is there of an oil or gas leak in exploratory and production drilling for petroleum in the area of the Great Barrier Reef?

(2)   What would be the probable effects of such an oil or gas leak and of the subsequent remedial measures on:

(a)   the coral reefs themselves

(b)   the coastline

(c)   the ecological and biological aspects of life in the area?

(3)   Are there localities within the Area of the Great Barrier Reef and, if so, what are their geographical limits, wherein the effects of an oil or gas leak would cause so little detriment that drilling there for petroleum might be permitted?

(4)   If exploration or drilling for petroleum in any locality within the area of the Great Barrier Reef is permitted, are existing safety precautions already prescribed or otherwise laid down for that locality regarded as adequate and, if not, what conditions should be imposed before such exploration or drilling could take place?

(S)   What are the probable benefits accruing to the State of Queensland and other parts of the Commonwealth from exploration or drilling for petroleum in the Area of the Great Barrier Reef and the extent of those benefits?

(c)   I have been informed that the Report should be presented early in 1974.

(d)   The figures are being completed. There is a considerable effort in doing this and I will provide the honourable senator with a dissection of the total expenditure as soon as possible. Expenditure by the Australian Government to 30 June 1973 is of the order of $62 1 ,000.

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