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Tuesday, 6 August 1946

Mr SMITH (Wakefield) .- When my time expired earlier this afternoon, I was -dealing with the possibilities that could follow from co-operation between the Commonwealth Government and the Government of South Australia in regard to the development of the Leigh Creek coal deposits. I am pleased that at least one honorable member of the Opposition realizes the value of cooperation between Commonwealth and State governments in regard to coal production. It would now appear that, at least one honorable member opposite will vote for the bill at its final stage. If the Leigh Creek coal deposits could, be developed effectively, South Australia could become largely self-contained in regard to coal supplies. The most practical method by which this could be done, in my opinion, would be by the establishment of power stations at the most suitable ports on Spencer's Gulf, and the transmission of electric current from them to- parts of the State where it is -most needed. For a considerable time it was regarded as uneconomic to transmit electricity by wire over long distances, but that view is now known to be unsound. In this connexion I direct the attention of honorable gentlemen to a paragraph in the Canada Year-Booh 1940, which reads -

The Transmission of Electric Energy. - Until almost the .beginning of the present century it was believed that any attempt at long-distance transmission of electricity would prove uneconomic because of the amount of current absorbed or lost in transmission. The development of the high-tension transformer and of improved insulating materials resulted in the construction, in 1S07, between St. Narcisse and Three Rivers, Quebec, of an 11,000,-volt line, 18 miles in length, the first high-tension transmission line in the British Empire. Since that' time continued technical advances have resulted in a steady growth in transmission distances and voltages in Canada, until at present power is being transmitted. 'for instance, from the Gatineau River in Quebec to Toronto, a distance of 225 miles,, at . 220,000 volts. Greatly improved technique has also been developed in switching control and protective equipment.

Electric power is already being transmitted a. distance of 130 miles in South Australia, and if a station, or even more than one, could be- established in the locality that I have suggested, power could be- transmitted to the river settlements and throughout the western portions of the State. All through the river settlements at present power is being provided by the burning of thousands of tons of wood a year. This is denuding the country of timber, with consequent extensive and serious soil erosion. The development of the Leigh Creek deposits as the result of cooperation between the Commonwealth Government and the Government of South Australia would be of immense significance to South Australia. Investigations could be made by experts to determine the most economical way to establish power stations. After they were established power should be available to electrify adjacent railways, and this would be extremely helpful to the development of the State.

I trust that one result of the passage of the bill will be an improvement of the relations .between the mine-owners and the miners. Despite the remarks of honorable gentlemen opposite the Government is making an honest attempt to solve the problems of coal-mining and so bring about stability in industry.

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