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Thursday, 3 December 1959

Mr TURNBULL (Mallee) .- I had intended to ask a question of the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (Mr. Casey), but the speech I now make will cover the ground that was to be covered in the question. I wish to know whether the Minister is aware that the deterioration of irrigation farms is causing great concern among farmers. I should like the Minister to try to ensure that at least one member of the enlarged executive of the C.S.l.R.O. will be a man primarily concerned with irrigation and soil-water relationships, if I may use that term.

I wish to make it clear that I am very conscious of the splendid work in this regard which is being done, and has been done, by the C.S.l.R.O. However, I point out that many irrigation farmers are greatly concerned regarding the salinity of their farming blocks brought about by irrigation. Only a few weeks ago we passed a bill to enlarge the executive of the C.S.l.R.O., and I thought that in view of the enlargement of the executive it would be a very good thing if at least one - more than one, if possible - of the executive members was a man primarily concerned with irrigation and soil-water relationship. The Minister may sr.y that the scientists and the experts are the people to deal with such matters. I am fully aware of that fact, but I believe that it would be of great advantage to have on the executive of the C.S.l.R.O. a man primarily concerned with this important matter - a man who has great practical knowledge of irrigation and its attendant problems.

I do not wish to deal with any other matters on this occasion. I have raised this subject only because I believe that in Australia - and perhaps especially in Victoria - it is necessary to maintain soil standards. There are very many acres of highly productive land under irrigation, and with the Snowy Mountains waters becoming available, there will be more land under irrigation. Therefore, I believe that it is necessary that the C.S.l.R.O. concentrate on keeping irrigation blocks up to the highest standards. To have one member of the organization's executive concerned primarily with irrigation and the soil-water relationship would do much to keep this very important subject before the experts and the scientists of the C.S.l.R.O.

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