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The 1970s was a decade of increased public awareness of conservation issues. ACF's approach to campaigning became more strategic, active and independent and in 1973, our well-known magazine Habitat was launched.
The decade had an impressive start, with ACF and the Australian Academy of Science organising the first ever national environmental education conference in Australia. ACF’s education officer, Alan Reid, addressed students at the conference.
In 1970, the campaign to protect large areas of the Mallee in Victoria was resolved in favour of conservation. Another key ACF campaign opposed mining the Koongarra uranium deposit, located on Aboriginal land and surrounded by Kakadu National Park. ACF objected to 277 applications for mining leases.
Sadly in 1972, the remote and beautiful Lake Pedder in Tasmania was obliterated by a hydroelectric scheme. A group of ACF members, angered by the organisation's failure to speak out in opposition to the flooding of Lake Pedder, worked to bring about internal change.
At this time, ACF Council’s main areas of focus were nature conservation, forests and land management, and energy and resources
In 1973, Gough Whitlam, then prime minister of Australia, launched the first issue of Habitat, now ACF's well-known magazine. Prince Phillip, president of ACF from 1971 to 1976, wrote:
“Habitat will provide essential news on conservation matters to the public at large”.
ACF pressed the federal government to lead a campaign for a worldwide ban on whaling and for an end to whaling in Australian waters. Thirty thousand supporters responded to a television advertising campaign to 'Save the Whales'. Nine years of vigorous public campaigning later, a moratorium was declared on commercial whaling in 1981.
During this period, Minister for Environment Peter Howson gave ACF a federal government grant of $150,000.
In 1974, Australia signed the World Heritage Convention and ACF proposed World Heritage nominations for areas of great natural and cultural values, beginning with the Great Barrier Reef and Fraser Island. ACF also formed an Antarctic Committee.
The Australian Government enacted the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975, which created the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, and defined what acts were prohibited on the Reef.
There were many more successes in the seventies including:
Throughout the seventies, ACF campaigned against uranium mining. ACF was a principal party at the Fox Inquiry into mining at Ranger in Kakadu and pressed for the creation of a major national park to protect both the natural and cultural values of the area.
Inspired by its new president, Dr Nugget Coombs (1978-79), economist, environmentalist and Indigenous rights activist, ACF moved to support Aboriginal land rights
In 1978, ACF pledged to work collaboratively with the Northern and Central Land Councils.
ACF adopted a number of policies including:
ACF also became increasingly involved in urban issues. ACF councillor and unionist Jack Mundey was the force behind 'green bans' that saw unions withdraw their labour from demolition sites to protect historic urban precincts like The Rocks in Sydney.
Pollution, climate change and population became topics of debate on the pages of Habitat.
The seventies was the decade that ACF consolidated its operations, extended its vision and committed to long-term plans for the achievement of conservation goals.