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Thursday, 8 December 1960

Mr SPEAKER (Hon John McLeay -

Order! I think that the honorable member is now getting a little too far away from the re-appointment of the commissioner, which is the subject of the bill.

Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am trying to make the point - I hope with your agreement, Mr. Speaker - that the reappointment of Sir William Hudson is very important, and it is important to the House, in deciding whether or not to re-appoint him, to consider the adequacy of the authority's staff. I have now finished my consideration of that point.

The way is open to the Government to remedy this situation by now proclaiming further tasks for the authority to carry out when its present programme is completed. I wish to urge on the House the importance of not missing the opportunity of reappointing Sir William Hudson for another three years, so that, during the next three years, his great engineering ability and skill may be used in the planning of future works for the authority and its staff to undertake. This would possess not only the immediate advantage of encouraging present staff to remain with the authority but also the far greater advantage, in the national interest, of keeping intact a highly expert organization, under the leadership of Sir William Hudson, animated by a common team spirit, and ready in the future to tackle some of the other great water supply projects for which this thirsty continent is crying out.

I am not suggesting that another similar project for this organization could be announced by the Government immediately. A vast amount of preliminary negotiation, such as with State governments, and of research and investigation is essential before any such work can be approved, or put in hand. That is one of the reasons why Sir William Hudson's continued service for the next three years would be of the utmost importance. We have already learned that lesson during the many years which passed before the Snowy scheme could finally be actually begun.

What I am urging on the Government with all the force at my command is that the opportunity to re-appoint Sir William Hudson should be taken so that these preliminary tasks may be put in hand now without any further delay, because, all over Australia, there are great works of this nature waiting to be done, and not a day should be allowed to pass without advancing them. If we do not undertake the task of national development in Australia with all possible speed, then people from other lands will eventually come here and do it in their interests.

I emphasize the importance and urgency of some announcement by the Government along those lines coincidental with the appointment of Sir William Hudson. It need not be a detailed announcement, nor an iron-clad guarantee, but at this stage a general announcement of the Commonwealth's determination to maintain the great construction organization which it now possesses, and to employ it on other national tasks would be an important reassurance to many of the Snowy Mountains Authority's officers as well as a wise investment in future national policy.

In the Snowy Mountains region to-day Sir William Hudson has assembled from around the world many technical experts, including geologists, hydrologists, engineers, scientists, and construction technicians of all kinds. They came here thrilled with the prospect of carrying out an immensely useful public work in a new land. It was the kind of challenge to which scientists and engineers naturally respond, and they have worked wonderfully well under the leadership of Sir William Hudson. While Sir William continues to be there, this team will work under him, but now these people are beginning to look elsewhere. They see the end of the present project, and they do not see any successor. They are drifting either to private employment in Australia or back to their homelands. Every man so lost to the authority is a loss also to Australia. It is a loss which ought to be halted now, and I am sure that the Government will see the need for it.

I urge once more upon the Government the proposal already put forward that the Snowy Mountains Authority be made the basis for setting up authorities like the Tennessee Valley Authority and the United States Bureau of Reclamation, with Sir William Hudson at the head of such authority. It has been pointed out that this can be done under section 96 of the Constitution. The Snowy Mountains scheme itself was initiated under the Commonwealth defence power.

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