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Friday, 12 September 1969

Mr TURNBULL (Mallee) - As time for this section of the Estimates is fast running out I will be brief so that the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) may reply to the matters that have been raised in the course of the debate. The electorate of Mallee in the north western corner of Victoria covers about 25% of the State. As the member for this vast area I am keenly interested in the port of Portland. I urge the Minister to do everything in his power to extend the port and to encourage shipping companies to use the port. As Minister for Shipping and Transport he would have perhaps more opportunity to do this than would any other man in Australia. In the last 20 years the port of Portland has been extended remarkably. It is a deep water port. Big ships use the port. I cannot see why it should not be further extended to handle all of the produce grown in the western and north western districts of Victoria and in the south eastern part of South Australia. If this were done it would be in the best interests of Australia. The areas to which I have referred are highly productive. The increasing use of superphosphate will mean an increase in the production of fat lambs, all of which could go through the big freezing works at Portland. Already large shipments of lamb and mutton go through the port.

I desire to direct attention to wheat, barley, oats, dried fruits and citrus. In the north western corner of Victoria about 70% of Australia's dried fruits are grown. This production could be and should be shipped through Portland. The primary producers in the large area to which I have referred should be able to receive through Portland all of the things that they require for carrying on their businesses. The area should be both exporting and importing through Portland. The Minister may say that it would be very difficult for him to get the primary producers of the area to ship their products through Portland but logic tells me that wheat, which is shipped in large quantities from the area, should go through Portland, instead of through Geelong as at present. When Portland was first discovered many years ago - even before John Batman came up the Yarra - it was thought that it would be the great outlet and inlet for Victoria but the city octopus has grown and Geelong, being close to Melbourne, has grown as a port at a much faster rate than Portland.

The people of the north west of Victoria are keenly interested in the development of Portland. Shires like Karkarooc, Dimboola and Mildura in the north are anxious to get the port opened. If through Portland all of the goods of the large area to which I have referred, and perhaps even the southern Riverina as well, were to flow, the benefits would be immense.

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