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Tuesday, 4 December 1973
Page: 2371

Senator LAUCKE (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) -The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, in reply to an earlier question by Senator Withers, stated that Applied Ecology Pty Ltd which conducts the turtle farming projects in the Torres Strait Islands will in future be a scientific and research organisation. What effect will this change have on Aboriginal employment opportunities as compared with the commercial turtle farming projects? What are the specific objectives of the proposed new organisation? Will the total present stocks of turtles be taken into the new arrangements or will there be some financial returns from sales of stock now on hand?

Senator CAVANAGH - I think that the restructuring of Applied Ecology Pty Ltd and its new purpose will have a beneficial effect on the employment of Aborigines. The company will seek methods of farming of native animals and sea life in areas where Aborigines could be employed. Reports would indicate that the present operations in Torres Strait could be a viable commercial undertaking but it is not known what danger we are causing to the ecology and cultural life of the area. Research into this aspect has not been carried out. The farms in operation will continue to be operated as a pilot research project to study the whole question of ecology and culture with the purpose of adopting turtle farming as a commercial undertaking, if no damage is done.

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