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Tuesday, 16 March 1965


Senator SCOTT (Western Australia) . - I rise to correct a few statements that were made during the course of this debate. One was by Senator Cant to the effect that in 1958, when there was a Labour Government in Western Australia, the Commonwealth made a free gift of some £5 million to Western Australia to be spent, subject to the Commonwealth's approval, in that part of Western Australia north of the 20th parallel. Senator Cant said that among the proposals that were submitted by the then Labour Government to the Commonwealth was the expenditure of about £2,500,000 on the Ord River scheme. I know the Labour Party pretty well and I know that it has not great ideas on development. This was particularly so at that time in relation to the Ord River. The three proposals that were submitted to the Commonwealth Government in 1958 were the development of a deep water port at Black Rocks, near Derby, the provision of another berth at Wyndham to enable two ships to be handled instead of one, and the establishment of a new port at Napier - Broome Bay. It was envisaged that these projects would cost a total of £5 million. When we went into the matter, it was found that for the development of a deep water port at Black Rocks, adjacent to Derby, it would be necessary to shift the whole of the township of Derby about 15 miles to Black Rocks.


Senator Branson - Through swamp.


Senator SCOTT - Yes, through swamp. There were big problems in the making of a road over marshy country, lifting it 12 or 1 5 feet for a distance of 9 miles. It was found that the total cost of this project would be £4 million. I remember distinctly making a speech on this subject of a £5 million gift by the Commonwealth to Western Australia, and having to take out some information in preparation for that speech. It was interesting to find that this great proposal by the Western Australian Labour Government to the Commonwealth, envisaging the expenditure of £3 million or £4 million on a deep water port, was to provide facilities for the loading and unloading at the port of Black Rocks of a total of some 1,200 tons in and out each year. I took out the figures over a period of two years. Imports and exports from the township of Derby each totalled 600 tons a year. The Labour Government at that time did not envisage the greater Ord scheme.


Senator Cant - Come up to 1965.


Senator SCOTT - I am talking about what the Labour Government of Western Australia did in 1958. The Brand Government came into office in April 1959, and one of the first pieces of legislation it brought down was .an act to alter the proposition in relation to the deep water port at Black Rocks and to ask the Commonwealth for £2 million of the £5 million to be spent on the Ord River project for the construction of the diversion dam at Bandicoot Bar, about which we all know so much. Now the honorable senator says that this Government has not paid keen attention to the development of the north. I should like to remind him and the Senate that the Commonwealth has given to Western Australia £6 million of the £8.4 million used for the development of the Ord scheme. It has given over £900,000 for increasing port facilities at Wyndham. It has given almost £1 million for the reconstruction or repair of the Wharf at Derby, and it has provided finance for the development of a deep water port at Broome. These are the three ports that are servicing this area. In the past three or four years the State has received from the Commonwealth sufficient money as a gift to develop the port facilities in the area, so I do not believe that the honorable senator can say justifiably that this Government has neglected the north.


Senator Dittmer - Why are Mr. Court and Mr. Brand squealing?


Senator SCOTT - They are not squealing at all. The squeals that I have read in the " West Australian " were not from Mr. Court and Mr. Brand. They seemed to refer to a bit of a row between a certain Mr. Chamberlain and Mr. Hawke, the Leader of the Opposition in the State Parliament. I did not want to refer to that, but the honorable senator asked for it.

This Government is well aware of the need for the development of the north and more has been done in that direction in the past seven years by this Government than was done in 25 years by previous governments. We are going ahead. The Prime Minister said this afternoon that a decision will be made when consideration has been given to the scheme. That is reasonable. As senators, we have to be reasonable about this matter. I believe that every honorable senator is keen about the scheme. I am all for it.


Senator Dittmer - The honorable senator is in for six yeaTS. He has no worries.


The PRESIDENT - Order! That has nothing to do with the matter being discussed.


Senator SCOTT - I do not intend to reply to that interjection. The greater Ord project will cost about £30 million over a period of 15 years, as Senator Cant has said. It will be of great value to the development of the north. I am convinced that it will be a successful venture. I believe that the people who own properties in the Ord Valley are making large profits. In the first year, the average net profit for each of the five farms was about £1,800. That is a good return, particularly when you take into consideration that it was in the first year of a new venture, growing a new crop. 1 am informed that Mr. Arbuckle ratooned his crop - I think that is the word they use - and obtained an additional 1,000 lb. of seed cotton per acre on his second harvest. Most of the farmers this year intend to ratoon their crops and they will thus obtain a double harvest. It is expected that the first harvest will yield about 2,000 lb. of seed cotton per acre and that they will get an additional 1,000 lb. when they harvest their second crop. They will receive a total return per acre of about £200, and from what I understand their costs will be no more than £70 per acre.


Senator Cant - More than that.


Senator SCOTT - I am making this speech. Those figures have been supplied to me from an authentic source. I understand that the cost of construction of the Ord River Dam, in terms of acre feet of water stored, is the lowest for any dam built in Australia. The cost of the Ord Dam will be £2 12s. per acre foot of water stored, compared with £23 per acre foot for the Warragamba Dam, £14 for the Wyangala Dam, £21 for the Blowering Dam and £33 for the Keepit Dam. Moving into Queensland, the Tinaroo Dam cost £.19 per acre foot. In Western Australia, the Serpentine Dam cost £15 per acre foot. In Victoria, the Moondara Dam cost £50 per acre foot and the Great Eildon Dam on the Goulburn River cost £4. The Eucumbene Dam cost £5 per acre foot. The Ord River scheme is the cheapest large scale proposition that we have ever had presented to us m Australia.

I arn hopeful that the Government will arrive at a right decision, but I am worried because of the fact that during the last 12 months the country has had to accept heavy responsibilities in the form of a large increase in defence expenditure. As the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Paltridge) said, as a nation we are now spending on defence a record amount of money for peace time. We also are passing through a period of over full employment in Western Australia, if not in the whole of Australia. Farmers cannot obtain labour. Large iron ore projects are being developed in the north of Western Australia, and these require much labour and material. The labour required for this project and others is just not available in Western Australia at the present time. If the Government were to inform Western Australia that it was prepared to supply the money for this job, 300 or 400 additional employees would have to be found to carry out the work. Where would they come from? I am not opposed to this scheme. I should like the Commonwealth to make a favorable decision on it, but I would suggest that the Government might give a favorable decision and then withhold the finance until a more suitable time, when labour would be available.


Senator Benn - Where is the cotton processed?


Senator SCOTT - There is a ginnery in the valley. That is all I know. The cotton would be sent to spinners in the south. I know that it is all used in Australia. 1 am not an authority on cotton. I have been in the area and have had a look at the farms, and I intend to go there again. 1 am veryenthused with this scheme and I am sure that it will succeed. I am sorry that Senator Cant has had to move this motion, but I believe he has done so because he is anxious to see the scheme carried to its logical conclusion, as is everybody else in Western Australia. I hope that at some future time the Government will come forward wilh a favorable decision.







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