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Thursday, 22 July 1926

Senator GRANT (New South Wales) . - There is one aspect of this matter upon which I should be exceedingly pleased to be furnished with definite information. I have tried on a number of occasions to obtain it, but for different reasons it has not come to light. We know that the Governments of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and the Commonwealth are responsible for the construction of the Hume reservoir, beyond Albury, and they are making a good and a quick job of it. It will be one of the largest reservoirs in the world. A vast volume of water is to be impounded. Arrangements have been made for the locking of the Darling and the Murray at various points. At many of those points the locks are already in operation. But a dead silence is maintained in regard to the intention respecting one of the most important parts of the whole scheme, the outlet to the ocean. Hitherto the influence of Melbourne, Sydney, and Adelaide has prevented steps from being taken to ensure the construction of a suitable Outlet for the river Murray. In the past that has been due to interstate jealousy. A deepwater port at the mouth of the Murray would be the natural outlet for the produce of that immensely fertile area.

Senator Kingsmill - That is impossible.

Senator GRANT - Had settlement been begun at the mouth of the Murray, instead of on Sydney Harbour, the subsequent settlement of Australia would have proceeded upon lines entirely different from those that it has followed. The basin of the river Murray is probably one of the most fertile in the world. It has a watershed of probably a little over half a million square miles. The natural outlet for the produce from, the Darling and Murray watersheds is the point at which the Murray enters the sea, yet nothing has been done to make it possible for deep-sea vessels to go there. Apparently no portion of the £7,000,000 that has been made available under the River Murray Waters Act has been expended at the mouth of that river.

Senator McLachlan - Has the honorable senator ever been at the mouth of the river Murray.

Senator GRANT - I have not; but I have been at the Hume weir, and have travelled for considerable distances along the river. The land along both sides is equal to land that can be found anywhere. It is time that interstate jealousy, which has been responsible to a greater or less extent for the lethargy that has been displayed by the commission - in regard to works at the mouth of the Murray - was brought to an . end. I should like the Minister to tell me whether he has any information as to when the commission proposes to take steps to provide a satisfactory outlet to the ocean. Has it any intention in that direction ? If it has not, will he consider the advisability of placing upon the commission persons who will take a wider, a more up-to-date, and a more progressive view of the situation than appears to have been taken by the existing members ?

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