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Tuesday, 18 May 1965

Senator BRANSON (Western Australia) . - I shall be brief because I spoke at great length on this matter last year.

Senator O'Byrne - Incorporate that speech in " Hansard ".

Senator BRANSON - It is incorporated. Other speakers have covered the details of the Bill. I just want to talk on what I consider to be the importance of water in these areas because my earliest recollections are of getting up as a small boy early in the morning and carting water for stock before going to school. There is nothing more heartbreaking than making the decision to stop carting water because, after having carted it for some time, one still does not know when it is going to rain and one is faced with the thought- that ultimately one will probably still have to sell one's stock, and sell it at a loss.

I think it should be stressed to all those people who cynically say that Western Australia gets too good a deal that Western Australia is the one State in the Commonwealth that is today developing 1 million acres of agricultural land a year. This has been going on for six years. This has made a terrific inroad into the State's own resources. Land cannot be opened up without providing the facilities that are needed, such as hospitals, schools, and roads. Therefore 1 think that Western Australia has a genuine case because of its unique circumstances in that it still has big areas of agricultural land to be developed.

Apart from that, I remind the Senate that up till 1963, out of her own resources, Western Australia had spent £24 million in developing water schemes. For a State with the population that Senator Drake.Brockman mentioned, I think that is a pretty fair effort. I will go along with the statement that has been made that this will not be the last approach by Western Australia. I, too, think t'here will be more approaches for assistance as these schemes are developed. For instance, I think now of Esperance. One of the real problems in the Esperance area today is a good water supply. People have gone to the trouble there of putting down dams, but they do not get the run off because the top soil at Esperance is very porous. They have also spent a lot of money in putting down bores in certain parts, but they cannot get underground water.

Senator Henty - What is the rainfall like at Esperance?

Senator BRANSON - The rainfall at Esperance is excellent for agricultural needs, but that is of no use unless the water can be stored for stock in the dry periods. That is one factor that will have to be looked at in connection with the development of Esperance. The pipeline is already as far as Norseman. Admittedly, it is only a small pipe, but I think we will have to face up to the fact that an approach will be made at a later stage for an extension of the pipeline to Norseman. I am in a position to know a little about this because I have two farms past which the comprehensive water supply runs. I am glad to say that we had to use the comprehensive scheme on only one occasion, for a fortnight. I would like to make the plea to all farmers that they continue to develop their own water resources on their farms and use the comprehensive scheme as an insurance policy. Our stock carrying capacity has increased considerably because of the knowledge that we will not be faced with a water shortage during the dry months. Although the season did not open until the middle of May, there was still sufficient water for our stock.

All too often, decentralisation is talked about glibly but the provision of an assured water supply completely changes life in a country town. The scheme now under consideration will do a lot of good. Honorable senators should remember, when we Western Australians present our case for the type of assistance provided in this legislation, that the State is playing its part. Expenditure of over £24 million is not a bad effort in view of the population of Western Australia. I support the Bill.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.

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