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Wednesday, 13 May 1970

Mr SWARTZ (DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND) (Minister for National Development) - First of all I would express disappointment that the agreement for the construction of the Dartmouth storage on the Murray system was not proceeded with by the South Australian Parliament, because we know that it is to the definite advantage of South Australia to proceed with that agreement. The honourable member has asked a number of questions which relate first of all to the Government and Parliament of South Australia and the governments and parliaments of New South Wales, Victoria and the Commonwealth. As far as the questions relating to whether or not there would be any advantage to South Australia in the dual construction of 2 storages at Chowilla and Dartmouth are concerned, the advice of the River Murray Commission to the 4 parliaments and to the 4 governments is that little advantage would be obtained in total storage gained and that in fact a very good possibility exists that if the 2 storages were constructed together no additional benefit would be available in the form of additional water supplies to South Australia.

Even if there were agreement by the upstream States to allow South Australia a portion of the very small increase in total storage that would result, it would be only a very minute addition to the existing arrangements and also would be at a very substantial cost. It is ?. fact that the Dartmouth storage, as agreed to by the governments of New South Wales, Victoria and the Commonwealth, and now not yet ratified by South Australia, will provide to South Australia approximately an additional quarter of a million acre feet of water per year. We believe that it is in the best interests of South Australia to proceed with this agreement.

As to the question whether the other Governments would agree to continue the increased supply of water to South Australia if the Chowilla Dam were proceeded with or if the 2 projects proceeded together, I of course cannot answer on behalf of the other governments. But I think it is quite clear that this matter has been thrashed out very thoroughly over a long period. A firm decision was made first of all on the recommendation of the River Murray Commission and by all the parties to the agreement. This decision subsequently was ratified by 3 of those parties. So I would say that it would be unlikely that the other States would agree to any additional supplies going to South Australia if they did not proceed with the Dartmouth proposal.

A question arises also as to whether or not the present supply of water to South Australia under the existing agreements would be maintained in the future. Well, my advice is that this probably would be so. But it is the same volume of water that has been provided over many, many years, in fact dating back practically to the year 1915. The only way in which South Australia could gain the benefit of the additional supply would be by proceeding with the Dartmouth proposal at the present time. I would fully recommend that this action to ratify the agreement be taken by the new South Australian Parliament when it is formed.

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