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Tuesday, 10 December 1974
Page: 3328

Senator LAUCKE (South Australia) - I regret that Senator McLaren has seen fit to make a political issue out of a very serious Bill that concerns the assessment of water resources and the quality of water. He has brought in an issue which was of deep concern to all of us in this chamber, as it was to the members of Parliament and the public of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, at the time of the debate on the Chowilla Dam and the Dartmouth Dam. In my opinion it is quite ridiculous to intrude into the discussion on a Bill such as this those issues that are now behind us. The big thing is to look at this matter nationally. For the time being there is a generating source of water being built at Dartmouth. We in South Australia need a holding basin for water that will better control the flow of water down the River Murray. Senator Hall has said quite rightly that the lifeline of South Australia is the River Murray.

The matter that is before us tonight simply seeks a better assessment of surface water, its amount and quality, and certain moneys are to be applied to that purpose. Personally I am disappointed with the amounts of money that are being allocated to the various States. The basis of these allocations is the requests by the various States for certain amounts of money on a dollar for dollar basis. South Australia is the driest State in the Commonwealth. Only 10 per cent of its land surface enjoys an annual rainfall of 10 inches or more. We are vitally concerned that every consideration be given to assessing our surface water potential and our underground water quantity and quality, always bearing in mind that the River Murray is a source of water to us. I regret that the Government of South Australia has seen fit to seek the smallest amount of money of any State in Australia.

Senator Steele Hall - I hope it is not wasted.

Senator LAUCKE - Yes. I hope that in the assessment of national requirements South Australia will be given the place in the sun it rightfully deserves, bearing in mind our reliance on the River Murray and our otherwise limited sources of water. I hope that the national Parliament will give our State amounts similar to those it has given to the State that you represent, Mr Acting Deputy President, in various schemes in recent times, which we in South Australia have not received. I mention that matter as background, in the complete realisation that we in South Australia have not been served as well as we might have been served in respect of maintaining a reasonable water supply.

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