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Tuesday, 6 September 1983
Page: 372


Mr LINDSAY —My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Will the Federal Government provide Commonwealth funding necessary to ensure completion of stage 1 of the Burdekin Dam by 1988?


Mr HAWKE —I thank the honourable member for his question. I know, as do all members of the House, his very long-standing commitment to the building of the Burdekin Dam. Way back in 1976, the honourable member helped to set up the Townsville-Burdekin Regional Water Committee to lobby for the construction of the dam. He has played a very important role in convincing the Federal Cabinet to build the dam. Given his long-standing and total commitment to the building of this project, I want to assure him that, yes, this Government is totally committed to the continuity of funding. The construction is still in its very preliminary stages but it will pick up next year. Of the $13m appropriated for this project in the Budget, $8.5m will be required to complete the construction village, the permanent and portable buildings, telecommunications, power supply, water supply, sewerage, village roads, workshop and caravan park amenities. The balance of this very generous budgetary allocation, the balance of $4.5m, will be used to begin construction of the main dam.

The Federal Government's decision to build the dam reflects our commitment to integrated forward-looking development of our natural resources. It will provide an enormous boost to north Queensland in terms of construction, irrigation, jobs , new contracts, new demand, and new confidence.

Opposition members interjecting-


Mr HAWKE —I know the unhappiness on the other side of the House; I can appreciate the unhappiness. However, I remind the House, the people of Australia and, most particularly, the people of Queensland, that it will provide an assured water supply for well over 100,000 Australians plagued by years of neglect. We are aiming for a completion of this great project by 1988, if it is practicable. It would be a tremendous boost to the bicentennial celebrations if we could do that. The Burdekin Dam is a symbol of the reconstruction of the Australian economy which will occur under this Government. It is because this Government and all its members share this commitment that we were all shocked and dismayed by the demeaning and destructive comments about the dam by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, the shadow Treasurer. He had this to say-and I am almost ashamed to read it out--

Government members-Go on, Bob; read it.


Mr HAWKE —Pressed as I am, Mr Speaker, I will read it out. This is what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition had to say:

I wouldn't have regarded the Burdekin Dam as any more sacrosanct than other areas.

He went on:

I'd have put it into a hotchpotch with some other things.

The last thing that the people of Queensland need is for a cloud to be cast over this great national development project. With a Federal Budget of over $50 billion, why has the Deputy Leader of the Opposition singled out the Burdekin Dam as the one project to be consigned to the scrap-heap?

The people of north Queensland have waited for 50 years for the Burdekin Dam. Is that not long enough for the Deputy Leader of the Opposition? Does he expect them to wait for another 50 years? This House is entitled to ask why the Deputy Leader of the Opposition-I suppose he is speaking on behalf of the Opposition Leader; he would not be allowed to say that without the authority of the Opposition Leader-is pursuing this vendetta. The Liberal Party's anti-north Queensland antics are simply incomprehensible.

These dam busters are ignoring the lessons of history-the absolute necessity for coherent, robust policies for the development of our huge natural resources. I suggest to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and to the Leader of the Opposition, because they must be speaking with the same voice on this matter, I imagine, that they do what I did, that is, visit the site of the Burdekin Dam and see for themselves this great developmental project, this historic example of Australians coming together to build a better future.