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Wednesday, 25 November 1959

Mr J R FRASER .- When the Public Works Committee reported on this matter in 1956 it inquired specifically as to whether or not the boiler house was to be equipped with boilers fired by solid fuel or oil. Its only recommendation is contained in paragraph 43 of the report, in which the committee had this to say - . . the Committee recommends that attention be given to the evidence regarding the situation of the boiler house, the possibility of smoke nuisance, and the necessity to provide space for the ultimate requirements of a 600-bed establishment.

There was very considerable evidence before the committee during its hearings in Canberra in September, 1955, relative to the possibilities of smoke nuisance as a result of the use of solid fuel plant in the boiler house. I regret that there is nothing more definite on that from the committee than the reference in the paragraph I have just quoted. I hope that the Minister will have regard to that recommendation of the committee and study the evidence that was given. I refer particularly to the evidence by the former Director of Works, Mr. James James, who, in a long series of replies to questions by members of the committee, said -

.   . we are unlikely to favour using solid fuel.

He went on to say -

If we did it would be fed mechanically to a boiler of ample size and there would be no visible smoke. We are much more likely to use oil fuel.

The director went on to say that his own office in the Department of Works was situated close to an oil-fed boiler which provided heating for the Barton offices, and no smoke nuisance was ever experienced from it. During the course of the inquiry there was evidence from other people, including a lady member of the hospital board, as to the possibility of a deleterious effect on the hospital and the equipment of the hospital, and on the health of the patients, if solid type fuel were used. Reference was made to experience in other hospitals, although that was to some degree countered by evidence regarding the prevailing winds in this area.

I should like the Minister, if he can do so at this stage, to indicate whether a decision has been made to use an oil-fired boiler or whether the decision is to use solid fuel such as coal or coke. I also ask him whether the committee's recommendation will be considered in the light of the evidence given to the committee.

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