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Wednesday, 10 June 1970

Mr SWARTZ (Darling Downs) (Minister for National Development) - I am glad that the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) referred to the question of efficiency because efficiency has been the very foundation of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority and I am sure it will be the foundation of the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation. All honourable members on the Government side and I am sure all honourable members of the Opposition appreciate the tremendous service that has been provided by the Authority and the skills that it has acquired, to the benefit of the nation as a whole. We believe that the skills, knowledge and high standard of efficiency will be carried by the Corporation into its new sphere of activity. The Government, of course, cannot accept the proposed amendment moved by the Opposition and insists that the clause remain in the Bill.

As has been mentioned, clause 16 sets up a consultative committee. I do not think that the Committee would happily accept the criticism of some membership of the committee by the honourable member for Blaxland who referred in a disparaging way to the Commonwealth Public Service. I have more faith in the Commonwealth Public Service, as I am sure my friend the honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart) has, and we all believe that the dedication of the senior officers of the Public Service who would be appointed to this committee would make sure that the committee operated in accordance with the intentions of the Government and would be of assistance to the Corporation. As has been outlined, it is intended that the committee membership will comprise 2 major government users of the consultants. This is quite significant because the consultative committee will include representatives of the Commonwealth Department of Works and the Department of National Development. In addition 2 persons nominated by the Australian Institution of Engineers will be representative of the wide body of private consultants throughout Australia. For overseas work it is intended that there will be added to the committee representatives of the Department of External Affairs and the Department of Trade and Industry. If we look broadly at this, I am sure that honourable members will see that it will be a balanced committee capable of providing the best possible advice which will be in the best interests of the Corporation and of the country, in association with work that will be undertaken by the Corporation in future.

In contradiction to the honourable member for Blaxland, I would have complete faith in the personnel that eventually will be appointed to the consultative committee. I know that the Corporation will welcome working with this committee and being able to accept its advice particularly on many matters which would concern overseas operations. For the various reasons that were mentioned in my second reading speech, the Government wishes to see this clause retained in the Bill.

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