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Wednesday, 13 November 1974
Page: 2348

Senator BUTTON (Victoria) -I rise under stimulation from Senator Jessop purely to clarify one or two matters about the respective attitudes of his Party, the former Government, and of this Government to the question of the conservation and preservation of Australia's unique national heritage. Twice today I have had the extraordinary experience of listening to Senator Jessop pursue with the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Cavanagh) the question of the preservation of a particular area of geographical distinction in South Australia. On each occasion he has betrayed a substantial delusion, I suspect, as to the concept of preservation upon which this Government has embarked. When the

Minister answered the honourable senator's question this morning he pointed out that under the last Government he, as an Opposition senator in those days, had raised the question of the preservation of this piece of land without any success whatsoever.

The point I really want to make is that that was typical of 23 years of Liberal governments in Australia and the concept of preservation as they understood it really amounted to nothing moreand still does- than the preservation of the interests of superannuated charity workers and party donors who received knighthoods and the preservation still of a rather pompous and irrelevant national anthem. But this Government has an entirely distinct concept of preservation- as to what is important in the Australian national heritage and what indeed is unique. I invite Senator Jessop to look at the report of the Committee of Inquiry into the National Estate where he will see that all these matters such as the one to which he referred will now be referred to that Committee for consideration. They will include matters which concern not only unique geographical features, unique natural and botanical features of this country but also the preservation of historical buildings which are important to future generations of Australians.

There is much debate in this place on the level of unemployment and things of that kind. Unemployment levels come and go and of course they came and went with monotonous rapidity under a series of Liberal governments. But the point remains that in 23 years of government the Liberal Party did nothing about this very important question of preserving unique historical and natural features in this country. I think it is a very great tribute to the Government and to the Department of Urban and Regional Development that this Committee has been established, that it is now pursuing its work and the sort of matters about which Senator Jessop now expresses great concern are being considered by that Committee on a continuing and on-going basis. So I point to that difference in the concept of what it is important to preserve in this country and to the work of this Committee as representing a distinct and ongoing aspect of the national aspirations of Australian people which are sometimes ignored by the Opposition.

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