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Thursday, 4 October 1984
Page: 1245


Senator ARCHER(5.32) —I too would like to speak on the report of the Interim Council on the Proposal for an Institute of Freshwater Studies. When the Government was building up for the last election not only did it go to Tasmania and say it would continue with the water program there, not only did it say that yes it would have an institute of freshwater studies, but also it made all sorts of other plans and promises. The easy way out of a promise is to refer it to a committee, and so far the Government has been totally successful in that it has stalled another 18 months and has not spent a dollar. Water is the greatest single need in Australia, and everybody knows it. Every day that we procrastinate, hedge, fudge and carry on, the worse the situation will get.

What has been achieved in the last 18 months? Chapter 5 on page 37 of the report lists the last six reports brought down. If the Government had just read those reports it would be a lot better off than it is now. Instead of that, we now have another report which refers to those six and says that what they said was right. I do not know how many more times we will have to say: 'Yes, this is the system, this is the way to go. Let us get on with it; let us start doing something'. We have only to look through the early part of this publication to see its major conclusions and recommendations. It is all there. I have read it over and over again. Will it be another 10 years before we see any progress? Is the outback of Australia-even the cities and towns-still in the position, according to this Government, that it does not need water and we had better spend our money on useless health systems or something like that and let the place go dry? I find it depressing to see a document like this repeating the things we know so well. It is a monument to the Government's procrastination and unwillingness to do anything on a national basis. It spends its money on sociological revolution instead of doing something sensible. It is quite bewildering and I just do not know what this Government needs now to spur it into some sort of action, to make it do something about the water needs of Australia.

Question resolved in the affirmative.