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Thursday, 31 May 1973
Page: 2985


Mr KELLY (Wakefield) - The honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti) and the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) made a very good case indeed for not having an inquiry by the Public Works Committee into the building of a pipeline from Gidgealpa to Sydney. None of us is arguing with this. We realise that an examination of this proposal has taken place in great detail. I agree with the honourable member for Macquarie and the Minister that this would be a wrong use of the Public Works Committee. It would delay the proposal. But that is not the point of the Senate amendment. As indicated by the amendment suggested by the honourable member for Farrer (Mr Fairbairn), the Senate amendment is asking for a Public Works Committee inquiry into future pipelines.


Mr Jacobi - Tell us why.


Mr KELLY - I will tell you why, in the future, projects should be subject to Public Works Committee examination. The Public Works Committee has never been expected to have any great expertise in building or in the construction of aerodromes, for example; but it does give an opportunity for a problem to be exposed. I am glad to see the Minister for Housing (Mr Les Johnson) in the chamber. He was an adornment to that Committee for many years and he would be well aware of the value that comes from a Public Works Committee examination. The problems are exposed.

In this instance, the problems of the routes of the pipelines can be spelt out. The public can have an opportunity to present its case. There would not be one person in this chamber who would not accept that because of the operation of the Public Works Committee system we have had a much better understanding of the reasons for public works being constructed and the sites for them. Why should we not adopt this course in this case? I refer not to the pipeline from Gidgealpa to Sydney but to the future, when there will be great uncertainty in the public mind about the route of any particular pipeline. Why not have the problem exposed, allow the public to be reassured and allow an expression of opinion? I do not think anybody in this chamber who knows the traditions of the Public Works Committee would not accept that there would be a great deal of public acceptance and, indeed, understanding if that happened.

It has been said that authorities are not necessarily subject to inquiries by the Public Works Committee. This, however, is not a hard and fast rule. Only, I think, 2 years ago the Public Works Committee made an examination of a project put forward by the Port Authority in Darwin. It is a separate Authority, but it was thought proper to conduct a Public Works Committee inquiry because of the issues of public interest involved. I accept that the pipeline from Gidgealpa to Sydney should not go before the Committee because of the delay that would cause. All the eloquence of the Minister for Minerals and Energy was devoted to making that point. However, I cannot understand why he will not accept the amendment suggested by the honourable member for Farrer, namely, that in future the projects be examined by the Public Works Committee. The Parliament and the public would be better informed if that happened.







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