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Wednesday, 10 June 1970

Mr LUCHETTI (Macquarie) - I support the amendment moved by the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) and I commend it to the Committee. lt will be extremely difficult to make the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation an organisation which will be able to play its part as an equal of other organisations in the wide world of business after the dismemberment of the Snowy Mountains Authority, lt forms just a part, a segment, just a small piece of what was once a great and wonderful organisation. Today we consider what is to become of it. how it is to function and whether there is to be a consultative committee. I think it is the responsibility of the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) to bring to the attention of honourable members just how this consultative committee, can render useful service, how it can obtain business, how it can promote the Corporation and how it can do a better job than the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority has been able to do in the past.

If we read the reports of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority we will find chapter after chapter on the outstanding work that has been performed by this wonderful organisation not only in many parts of Australia but throughout the world. Will this consultative committee preserve the dynamic features of the Snowy Mountain Authority? From what the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating^ and the honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart) have said. I am convinced it will not. It must hamstring, restrict and tie up the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation so it will be less effective than the Snowy Mountains Authority has been in the past.

I believe that the Government consciously and deliberately wants this to be so. It wants to put the brakes on the Corporation. It does not want the Corporation to be an effective organisation building its empire and eventually becoming, as we would like it to become, a great project designer and builder of water conservation schemes. This clause will indeed apply the brakes because a consultative committee has all the questionable features that should not be accepted.

The honourable member for Blaxland pointed out the types of people who may be engaged on the consultative committee. I refer to people not concerned about the development of the committee, people with an eye on big business in other fields and people who perhaps have some ties with other commercial activities or engineering firms. They could be accountants or business advisers. Surely this is not what we want. If the Corporation is to be able to succeed in the way in which the Snowy Mountains Authority has been able to succeed in the past - it has been able to pay its way - it will return great dividends to this country in terms of dollars and cents. The Snowy Mountains Authority is bringing great wealth to this country from the water that it is making available freely to people in the areas served by the Snowy Mountains scheme. As its financial affairs in respect of the generation and sale of electricity have proved so eminently satisfactory, I can see no reason to depart from the basic structure which has characterised the activities of the Snowy Mountains Authority in the past.

The proposed Corporation will be no more nor less than a prop for big business, an aid for big business, to be associated with big business so that big business, when involved in some situation, will be able to call on the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation to assist it to do a job of work to earn dividends for it. The work will not advance this nation's development projects but will merely provide gain for people who have vested interests. From my point of view, I find it extremely difficult to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. I believe that the Snowy Mountains Authority is doomed, despite our efforts and the constructive, creative thoughts we have directed towards making something out of this

Authority. We are doomed to failure, and the Government has made up its mind that this will be so.

Clause agreed to.

Clause1 7. (1.) Subject to this section, the functions of the Corporation are -

(a)   the carrying out of investigations; and the furnishing of advice, in relation to water resources in Australia or elsewhere;

(f)   the construction of, or the performance of any work in relation to the construction of, engineering works outside Australia. (3.) The Corporation shall not, in the exercise of its functions under sub-section (1.) of this section, undertake -

(a)   the carrying out of an investigation;

(b)   the furnishing of any advice;

(c)   the designing of an engineering work;

(d)   the supervision of a contract; or

(e)   the construction of, or the performance of any work in relation to the construction of, an engineering work, except with the approval of the Minister and in accordance with any conditions to which the approval is expressed to be subject. (4.) The Minister shall not, for the purposes of the last preceding sub-section, give his approval in relation to the exercise by the Corporation of a function referred to in paragraph (c), (d) or (e) of sub-section (1.) of this section in respect of an engineering work in Australia unless the work is -

(a)   a work for the measurement of the flow of water;

(b)   a work for the collection, storage, diversion, conveyance or supply of water;

(c)   a work for the generation, transmission or supply of electricity;

(d)   a work which, or a substantial part of which, is underground; or

(e)   a work (including a road) incidental to a work referred to in any of the preceding paragraphs of this sub-section. (5.) The Minister shall not, for the purposes of sub-section (3.) of this section, give his approval in relation to the exercise by the Corporation in Australia of a function otherwise than for the purposes of, or in relation to an engineering work that is to be carried out by or for, or by or for an authority of, the Commonwealth, a State or the Administration of a Territory of the Commonwealth unless the function is to be exercised in pursuance of a contract between the Corporation and a consulting engineer. (6.) Notwithstanding sub-section (2.) of this section, it is the intention of the Parliament that the Corporation may perform a function of any of the kinds specified in sub-section (1.) of this section in pursuance of an authority conferred on the Corporation by a law of a State, but the provisions of sub-sections (3.), (4.), (5.) of this section apply in relation to any such performance of a function by the Corporation.

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