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Tuesday, 9 June 1970


Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Monaro) - This legislation inevitably marks the end of the one organisation which could have undertaken further great water conservation tasks throughout Australia. The honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart) has most convincingly shown that the new Corporation now to be established will, firstly, have a role given to it far too narrow to enable it to perform a useful task in this field and, secondly, it will be hedged around with such severe restrictions that, in fact, it will be strangled at birth, and this will be the end of the whole dream except for that part of it which exists today in the Snowy Mountains, in the irrigation areas and in the electricity which is flowing from that great project. I have heard nothing more pitiful in my many years in this

House than the speech just made by the honourable member for Farrer (Mr Fairbairn).


Mr King - It was a good speech.


Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I agree that the honourable member would find it a very good speech because it was founded entirely upon his narrow distaste for anything initiated or achieved by a Labor government and characterised by his utter distaste for anything which has any aspect of Socialism attached to it. The Snowy Mountains project was, of course, and still is a great Socialist project. It is a public work.


Mr Pettitt - Private enterprise built it.


Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It is a public work carried out in the public interest without the private profit motive involved. Even the honourable member for Farrer would not say, as the honourable member for Hume so naively does, that the Snowy Mountains project could have been carried out as a profit-making private free enterprise project. Of course he does not. But he has devoted much of his speech to criticising the achievements of Labor governments in the field of water conservation. He has criticised delays; he has criticised costs. He knows that his own party is completely safe from such criticisms because it has never done anything worth while at all in this field. The most extraordinary statement made by the honourable member for Farrer who, after all, was the Minister for National Development in charge of this project, was that the project could not be carried out under the defence powers of the .Commonwealth.


Mr Fairbairn - Could not be today.


Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is right; could not today be carried out under the defence powers of the Commonwealth. That is exactly what was said by the then members of the Liberal and Country Parties when the legislation to establish this project was brought before the Parliament. Their Leader, then Mr Menzies, now Sir Robert Menzies, declared in this House that it could not be carried out because the defence powers would never permit it - that it could not be founded upon the defence powers. He used exactly the same words as the honourable member for Farrer is using, except that the honourable member is using them 20 years later and after the project has been almost completed, and partly completed under his ministerial control. It would be only in the most narrow and, if the honourable member for Farrer will permit the expression, politically idiotic sense that it could be said that the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority had not been, in actual fact, a construction authority. If he will look at the speech of his successor in introducing this Bill he will see that the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) paid tribute to the work of the Snowy Mountains Authority as a construction authority and he gave it credit for the great construction carried out in the Snowy Mountains area. He was equally at pains to point out that the new Corporation would not have the construction tasks carried out by the Snowy Mountains authority.

The work which exists in the Snowy Mountains area today is the result of the establishment of an authority which had not only consulting and design but full construction powers and exercised them. This legislation is a betrayal of pledges made to this Parliament and to the people of Australia by successive Liberal Prime Ministers and by many other Ministers in the present coalition Government and its predecessors the Holt Government and the Menzies Government. Sir Robert Menzies, when Prime Minister, said:

It is inconceivable that when the present Snowy Mountains task is completed this great team will not be used to carry out further such great conservation tasks in the interests of the whole of the people of Australia.

The honourable member for Farrer, when Minister for National Development, while he did not use terms so clear, concise and emphatic as did the then Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, very frequently, when questioned and challenged by motions from this side of the House, gave every kind of assurance that the people of the Snowy Mountains area and the staff of the Snowy Mountains Authority had no cause whatever to fear: They would be guaranteed continued work in their chosen field throughout the whole of their working lifetimes.


Mr Cohen - Did he say that?


Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Yes, and yet today in this place we see the complete betrayal, the-complete falsification, of those statements made by honourable members -and Ministers opposite.


Mr Giles - What page of Hansard is that on?


Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Does the honourable member have to be reminded? Does he deny-


Mr Giles - What is your authority?


Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am asking the honourable member for Farrer whether he cares to deny that he gave assurances of that kind- that he gave the people of the Snowy Mountains area and the staff of the Authority reason to believe that there would be a future for them in enterprises of this kind.


Mr Giles - Quote your authority.


Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - 1 am asking him whether he denies it.. If he denies it and denies it and denies- it, it will still remain true. The words have been stated and they cannot be recalled, but he does not deny having said them.


Mr Fairbairn - Of course I do.


Mr Giles - Where is your authority? Where is it in Hansard?


Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - L have it in a hundred places. 1 only want to be assured that the honourable member for Farrer denies that when . Minister for National Development he. held out to the people of the Snowy Mountains area and the staff oft the Snowy Mountains Authority an assurance that they need have no cause to feal that when the project was completed they would continue to be employed in similar projects as long as they lived. Does he deny it?


Mr Fairbairn - 1 never said that all of them were given that assurance. 1 said that there would be a future for some.







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