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Friday, 29 March 1946

Mr FULLER (Hume) .- I desire to bring to the notice of the House the construction of the Tumut-Canberra road. This matter has been under consideration by the Commonwealth Government, in collaboration and conjunction with the State authorities, for the last twenty years. The construction of this road is universally regarded as of paramount importance, not only to Tumut but also to every town and district right to the Victorian border and far beyond it. It would be a worthy entrance to Australia's capital from Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth, and would also serve to bring within easy reach of Canberra residents one of the most fertile and romantically beautiful districts in the Commonwealth. The road would serve to open up a large area of tableland country that is suitable for intense cultivation and the production of English crops, fruit and vegetables, a tableland rich in untapped timber resources of the highest order sufficient to meet the needs of Canberra for many years to come. It is conservatively estimated that from 50,000,000 to 60,000,000 superficial feet of ash, gum and peppermint timbers are available within a distance of 5 miles on both sides of the proposed road. This timber is confined to leasehold and State forestry lands, and does not include any portion of the Kosciusko State Park, which in places is as close as 1 mile to the present road. This estimate is insignificant compared with the quantity of timber which could be expected from the park. Extensive virgin mountain ash forests occur in the Kosciusko State Park, and in the Bramino-Dubbo Creek and Prince's Flat section. The greater portion of these oak forests would become accessible if the proposed road was constructed, and would provide a valuable source of timber supplies for Canberra home-building and other essential construction requirements, if releases of matured timber in the stands were approved by the Kosciusko State Park Trust in .accordance with sound management practice. Large stands of virgin peppermint are available for the distillation of eucalyptus oil. Many of those stands have not been tested for eucalyptus oil content and grade. Even if only the lowest grade of oil was produced, their exploitation and utilization in conjunction with the establishment of the area for settlement purposes, would contribute greatly to the reduction of the original establishment costs. The Tumut-Batlow district is capable of producing practically everything that Sydney at present supplies to

Canberra in the way of primary products. The time will come when a local producing area will have to be developed for the sustenance of the National Capital. The distance from Sydney to Canberra is 190 miles. Therefore, the present paradox cannot be allowed to continue indefinitely. The great food-producing district to the south-west of Canberra is entitled to direct access to the Capital City in order that it may exploit this new market. It matters not whether the suggested road be classified as a national or a developmental road. Having been. built, because of its advantages and economy it would become the main route of traffic converging at Tumut, and would afford considerable relief to the congested traffic on the main southern railway and road. Canberra, with its ever-increasing population, must be supplied with agricultural, dairying, and pastoral products from adjacent districts. Those districts which already are accessible are unable to provide the capital's present requirements in this regard. Tumut and the near districts to the south, as well as the country intervening between it and the Australian Capital Territory, can supply all these in abundance. The lack of a market hitherto has greatly restricted the Tumut district's production of many lines that are more remunerative to the men on the land than are the pursuits which, perforce, they have to follow. Once a road had been constructed to serve this market, production would be sure to expand with wonderful speed. We have the soil, climate, and rainfall. The men' on the land await the facilities for marketing their beef, fat-lambs, vegetables, fruit, maize, millet, and many other lines of produce. If these facilities were provided, an impetus would be given to rural industry. The construction of a dam on the Tumut River - an approved post-war project - will relieve the producers along the river flats of the present uncertainty in regard to the possibility of droughts or floods. No matter what type of season was experienced, supplies of foodstuffs would always be available for the Canberra market. The proposed road would serve as a specially desirable highway to the recently dedicated Kosciusko State Park, from the MicalongBrindabella side. It would serve the in- terests of tourists, trout fishermen, hikers, skiers, &c, and, in addition, would act as a protection .against fire to the park. It would also be of great value to stockowners who graze their stock, on the snow-lease summer-relief country, and would materially assist in the administration of this great park, which eventually will become Australia's playground. Some of the finest mountain and plateau scenery in Australia would become accessible. After leaving the Australian Capital Territory at the top of Mount Brindabella, a road cut solely for tourists winds down to Brindabella at the present time. The country in that locality is inspiring. It is heavily timbered with mountain ash, gums, messmate, peppermint, and stringy bark. Mount Brindabella is 4,300 feet above sea-level, and the climb over it has been compared with the journey to the Cann River from Canberra along the King's Highway. Prom Tumut, the journey could be continued to Yarrangobilly Caves or Mount Kosciusko, thus providing a round trip of undoubted scenic beauty. Factors influencing the case for the construction of the proposed road may be summed up thus : Closer settlement ; timber and forest products; fruit production; dairying; beef, mutton and fatlambs; vegetables; pig-meats; millet industry; tourists' facilities; and more direct access to Canberra from the States. This work is most desirable in the in- terests of national development and protection. In 1927, Mr. S. H. Jansen, a Main Roads Board surveyor, carried out a survey of the proposed route, and he gave the distance as 78 miles. The survey revealed that there were no great engineering difficulties to be overcome. The gradients over Tiger Mountain, the greatest obstacle, were found to be from 1 in 1S.6 to 1 in 30. Through the Bondo Gap to Micalong Swamp and the plateau on the Tumut side, the steepest grade would be 1 in 22. The Main Roads Board estimated that the new construction necessary would cost £324,000. In January, 1928, the New South Wales Minister for Works, Colonel Bruxner, received a deputation consisting of representatives of all the shires between Canberra and Albury, which pressed for the construction of the road in co-operation with the

Commonwealth Government. Later the Government offered to provide £200,000 if New South Wales contributed £124,000. The Main Roads Board finally agreed, but another obstacle presented itself. It was found that 23£ miles of the. proposed road was in the Yarralumla Shire, and the Local Government Act provides that, the shire through whose territory a proposed road would pass must lodge a request with the Minister, before he can instruct departmental officers to act. The board intimated that it would be a rigid and irrevocable decision to declare the Jansen survey route a developmental road, and, in granting the money for its construction, the councils through whose territory it passed would have to enter into an agreement with the board for repayment of their share of the cost intwenty years. The Yarralumla Shire Council did not feel justified in incurring liability for its proportion of the expenditure in interest and sinking fund payments in the construction of a road which would involve it in a disbursement of about £S00 annually for twenty years. But the obstacle can be overcome, as the Tumut Shire Council, of which I am a member, is prepared to take over the whole of the 23-j- miles.. of road construction in the Yarralumla Shire. The claim for the construction of a road from Tumut to Canberra is so strong that the Government will be forced to have it built. I have a map before me which shows that in travelling from Canberra to Tumut one has to cover .about .1.23 miles by a circuitous route, whereas the proposed direct road would enable the journey to be accomplished in only 76 miles. A further proposal is to continue the new road to the Hume Highway in the neighbourhood of Little Billabong, and that would cut another 22 miles off the distance now travelled between Canberra and Albury. This is a national matter which should receive the Government's earnest and favorable consideration.

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