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Tuesday, 1 October 1974
Page: 1512


Senator MAUNSELL (Queensland) - I should like to indentify the Australian Country Party with these 2 measures. As Senator Carrick has said, whilst we support both the Queensland Grant (Ross River Dam) Bill and the Julius Dam Agreement Bill we are dissatisfied with certain aspects of them. At the outset I indicate that these Bills indicate a noticeable change on the part of this Government towards water conservation in Australia, particularly in remote areas. After all, we live in the driest continent. A great number of individual people have been prepared to conserve water in order to conduct particularly primary industries in Australia. At the first opportunity this Government withdrew taxation concessions relating to water conservation and now very few water conservation projects are being undertaken.

As Senator Carrick has said, the Julius Dam is important to the development not only of Mount Isa but also of the whole area surrounding the dam. Immense mineral deposits are waiting to be developed. Whilst the dam itself, when completed, will more than adequately meet the needs of Mount Isa, there is no doubt that in the very near future, once we develop other mining deposits around that area, this dam and the supply of water from it will certainly be necessary. One of the unfortunate things about that area is that although it receives a very high rainfall most of it occurs in a few weeks of the year, and the catchment area for the whole of that mining complex is such that there is very little opportunity to conserve sufficient water for all the mining developments that are projected in the future. Perhaps water will have to be piped in from other areas. Therefore, wherever we can we must support the construction of dams in this area in the nation's interest. After all, the mining ventures in these remote areas are of national importance. Because of the export income that they earn, these mining ventures are of importance to every person in Australia. It will not involve a great deal of expenditure on the part of each person in Australia in order to provide something that will be of great benefit to everyone.

I turn to the Ross River Dam. It is unfortunate that the money for the construction of this dam was not forthcoming earlier. I know that when the first stage of the dam was completed it was not expected that that part of the dam would fill or that water would be running over the spillway within a few years. But because of the heavy flooding that occurred in north Queensland during the last wet season, almost within a week of the completion of the first stage of the dam water was running over the spillway. Whilst the dam has been able to meet the water needs of the city of Townsville- Townsville has been very short of water for years; until now there have always been water restrictions- it has not been able fully to- solve the flood mitigation problem. Once the second stage of this dam is completed much of the water will bypass Townsville and flow into another area. At the present time most of the water has to flow over the spillway. We hope that the second stage of the dam can be completed before any more cyclones or heavy falls of rain occur in that area. When the second stage of the dam is completed the area surrounding it and the Townsville district can proceed with plans for the future.

I agree with Senate Carrick who said that there are all sorts of great plans for the city of Townsville. It was stated that Townsville would be one of the great growth centres of this nation if a Labor government came to power. Not only have the defence forces in Townsville been reduced, Townsville itself depends on the great wealth earned by the pastoral industry and the mining industry. We know what is happening to our great pastoral industry at the present time, and that doubts have been cast on the mining industry progressing to the stage where deposits will be developed. 1 refer, for example, to the Greenvale nickel project. No doubt it is only a matter of time before nickel will be treated there in vast quantities, and provision has been made to expand the nickel treatment plant fairly soon. But I am afraid that even that will take some years to achieve in the present economic climate. Because such contracts are written well before the project gets under way, inflation and currency matters have prevented this project from developing too quickly. At this stage only such nickel ore can be produced as can be handled by the treatment plant.

These sort of projects are more important to Townsville than the setting aside of great areas of land for development, as has been done in the Albury-Wodonga area where all sorts of loan funds have been provided for all sorts of other development. It is individuals who will develop these areas, and they will develop them to a much greater extent and in a much more efficient manner than will governments. As long as governments provide sufficient funds to carry out projects such as the construction of dams for the benefit of all the people, as is being done on this occasion, then all that the Government has to do is to create the climate for the development of those areas, and particularly the development of private industry in those areas. The Australian Country Party supports these 2 measures.







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