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Wednesday, 10 June 1970

Dr PATTERSON (Dawson) - One of the most iniquitous aspects of the clause with which the honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart) has been dealing is that the Government refuses the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation the right to construct not only in the States of Australia but in the Australian Capital Territory and in the Northern Territory. What could be more retrograde or more negative than this? The Government has foreshadowed the introduction into the Parliament of a Bill relating to off-shore areas. If this Bill goes through the Parliament, it will mean that the Commonwealth will have control over these off-shore areas and will be responsible for all works off the Australian coast. Science is showing throughout the world the tremendous engineering aspects that are involved in the developing of our oceans in the field of ocean engineering. Under this Bill the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation will be refused the right to do any construction work in the Commonwealth Territories. I object strongly. This is a retrograde and negative step. 1 believe that any Commonwealth Government which refuses to allow this world famous authority to construct in its own Territories or in its own off-shore areas is to be condemned.

Amendment negatived.

Mr SWARTZ(Darling Downs- Minister for National Development) [9.25! - I am sure that the Opposition will agree with the amendment that I will move because it is intended to extend the power of the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation. I move:

Add at the end of sub-clause (S.) the following words: or the work required for the purposes ot the exercise of the function is to bc performed wholly or mainly in laboratories of the Corporation'.

We believe that this amendment is required because clause 17 (5.), as it stands at present, states that no functions, including those that have been outlined in the previous part of the clause, will be exercised by the Corporation for private organisations unless a middle man contract is made with a consulting engineer. The restrictions with regard to carrying out work for private organisations can give rise to problems in the future operation of the engineering laboratories. In particular, there could be a problem in connection with the involvement with the National Association of Testing Authorities. This Association was set up in 1946 with the object of coordinating testing services available to the Government and industry, to ensure common validity of measurements, methods of testing and qualifications of staff. These objectives could be attained by encouraging laboratories to register on a purely voluntary basis. The laboratory could retain its autonomy and continue to perform its existing functions, but in addition would be licensed to endorse certificates for tests which would have Commonwealth wide recognition, provided that such tests had been carried out in accordance with the standards and procedures agreed upon by the Association. I think this is sufficient reason alone, apart from the other work in private fields, to extend the Corporation's authority and to allow, without the inhibitions of the first part of clause 17, the engineering laboratories to carry out this work in the private field. I commend the amendment to the Committee.

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