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Thursday, 5 December 1974
Page: 3177

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Media) -I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

I make this second reading speech on behalf of Senator Wheeldon. I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

THE DEPUTY PRESIDENT-Is leave granted? There being no objection leave is granted. (The speech read as follows)-

In my second reading speech on the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Bill I drew the attention of honourable senators to world-wide concern for the conservation of wildlife and of places of natural, scenic, scientific and recreational significance. The House of Representatives Select Committee on Wildlife Conservation, established under the previous Government, stressed the need for a national policy aimed at acquiring sufficient of the total land area of each State and Territory to ensure that all types of wildlife habitat will be preserved. The Committee recommended that grants be provided to the States to enable them to acquire areas of wildlife habitat which are of national significance.

The Committee of Inquiry into the National Estate, established by this Government, also recommended a system of grants to the States to ensure that adequate funds are made available for acquisition of lands for national parks. This Committee stressed that the selection of areas for reservation should be based on objective scientific criteria which allow for representative ecosystems, protection of threatened species, and the recreation needs of urban populations. The Committee also recommended that the Australian Government, in close consultation with the States, take urgent steps for the preservation of the Australian coastal heritage including a States Grants program to assist in land acquisition. The recent report of Professor Specht and his associates, entitled 'Conservation of Major Plant Communities in Australia and Papua New Guinea', drew attention to the fact that only about half of the distinct plant communities in this country are protected in national parks and reserves.

The States Grants (Nature Conservation) Bill, which I now commend to honourable senators, complements the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Bill. It is in accordance with the recommendations of both the House of Representatives Select Committee on Wildlife Conservation and the Committee of Inquiry into the National Estate. To these ends, $9m has been provided in this year's budget as part of a 3-year program for expenditure of $20m for the acquisition of land for national parks and nature reserves. This program will be determined in consultation with the States and the Minister for the Environment and Conservation (Dr Cass) has already written to each State Minister responsible for wildlife and national parks asking for proposals of acquisition to be submitted for consideration.

We all share a responsibility to conserve for future generations as much of our natural heritage as possible- in terms of both area and diversity. This Bill accepts that responsibility. It enables the National Government- for the first time- to make a major financial commitment so that future generations will have the chance to see, understand and enjoy the special natural qualities of Australia. In short, I regard this Bill as a very significant part of this Government's response to the growing public awareness of our precious but dwindling natural heritage. I commend the Bill to the Senate.

Debate (on motion by Senator Carrick) adjourned.

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