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Wednesday, 27 November 1974
Page: 2826

Senator GEORGES - I direct a question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Now that the report on oil drilling on the Great Barrier Reef has been received from the royal commission after 4l/i years of deliberation, will the Prime Minister expedite the printing of that report and will he make it available to the Senate? Will he consider referring it to the relevant committee of the Senate for consideration and recommendation? Will the Prime Minister also make a clear statement in the Parliament concerning the Government's attitude to drilling in the area of the Great Barrier Reef?

Senator MURPHY - I see no reason why that report should not be made available to the Senate. 1 do not know what the costs of printing and so forth might be, but certainly the report should be available in some form or other to the Senate. On the question of referring the report to the appropriate committee, I suppose the Committee on Social Environment would cover matters such as this. My recollection is that there is a general reference to that Committee concerning all matters of pollution and I should think that the Committee, without any further reference from the Senate, could certainly undertake some kind of study of the report in question. If necessary, I suppose the general reference could be fortified by a special reference, but I think the study could be undertaken without any kind of reference from the Senate. If that is so, no doubt the Committee would go ahead and do it.

As to the third matter, in relation to a clear statement by the Prime Minister on the Government's attitude to drilling, undoubtedly this will be a matter for the Government to consider and in due course the Prime Minister or the appropriate Minister would make such a statement.

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