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Thursday, 8 December 1960

Mr SPEAKER - Order! I think the honorable member is getting away from the bill. The purpose of the bill is to authorize the re-appointment of Sir William Hudson. The honorable member is inclined to develop a general discussion of the scheme itself and of the employees of the authority. If the honorable member will confine his remarks to the matter before the Chair, it will be very helpful.

Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I shall be very happy to comply with your ruling, Sir, but I do wish to advance the argument that, in deciding whether to reappoint Sir William, it is important to see the advantages that can be gained by using him in further planning for the Commonwealth, and I shall confine my argument to that as closely as possible. As to the nature of these future tasks, perhaps the most succinct definition would be " A national organization for the investigation, planning and development of water conservation ". Australia needs water conservation more than any other country. The field for such activity here is limitless and Sir William Hudson's services, should the House agree to re-employ him for another three years, could be very usefully employed in preliminary work on such projects as -

Multi-purpose development and flood control of the northern rivers of

New South Wales, involving power inter-connexion with southern Queensland.

2.   Flood control and long-term storage for the Darling Basin river system, which would benefit Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia.

3.   Inland diversion of the Burdekin River and other north Queensland coastal rivers for power development and irrigation of inland parts of Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia.

4.   Full-scale development of the coastal rivers of the north-west of Western Australia, and of the Northern Territory, for power, development, irrigation and water conservation.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! I think the honorable member is now moving into a general debate on national development.

Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I shall proceed no further along those lines. The other two schemes I suggest - and I will do no more than name them - are -

5.   Water conservation works in the Gulf country of northern Queensland associated with diversion to the Diamantina basin; and

6.   Large-scale investigation of the possible use of atomic energy in explosions.

Mr SPEAKER - Now back to the bill.

Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Right. It may be argued that it is too early yet to be thinking of any of these future tasks, but I regard the appointment of Sir William Hudson as being of importance because it is essential that preliminary consideration of these tasks be undertaken now.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! The measure before the Chair relates to the extension of the term of employment of the commissioner and a general debate on national development throughout Australia is not in order.

Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Then I shall confine myself entirely to mentioning arguments supporting the re-appointment of Sir William Hudson.

Mr SPEAKER - If the honorable member does that he will be keeping to the purposes of the bill.

Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am arguing that the House should agree to this measure for the re-appointment of Sir William Hudson so that Sir William may be engaged on behalf of the Government in the long period of negotiations which will be necessary to achieve satisfactory arrangements with the States for the carrying out of further water conservation projects in Australia. Furthermore, I am arguing that Sir William Hudson should be re-appointed to carry out the investigation necessary before the Government can commit itself to such very large expenditure. If he is appointed, the projects can be scrutinized carefully.

Mr Hulme - This has nothing to do with the Snowy Mountains Authority.

Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It has everything to do with it. I point out that the Snowy Mountains Authority already has made preparations to undertake other work and is undertaking work for Queensland, Tasmania and New South Wales at the present time. My argument is strictly relevant.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! I again ask the honorable member to come back to the bill which relates to the re-appointment of Sir William Hudson.

Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Yes, Sir.

Mr SPEAKER - The honorable member has been allowed a good deal of latitude.

Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am coming to the conclusion of my remarks. I put aside, at your request, some pages of what I intended to say. It is probably true that no other hydro-electric or water conservation authority in the world has been as meticulous in its investigations as has the Snowy Mountains Authority. This factor has undoubtedly contributed largely to the achievement of major works within target estimates of cost and often ahead of time schedule, which is another very important reason for the. re-appointment of Sir William Hudson.

The other aspect to which I desire to add emphasis from the viewpoint of Sir William Hudson's re-appointment to the authority is that of construction work. I think very few people outside those actively connected with the Snowy Mountains Authority realize how large a proportion of its staff is associated with construction.

That is, either directly on dams, tunnels, power stations and transmission lines or indirectly in providing services such as plant and materials, and basic facilities such as roads, camps, communications and power. In all of these, Sir William Hudson is the key man in the authority's service. The efficient planning and execution of these unspectacular aspects has significantly helped the remarkably smooth and swift progress of the Snowy Mountains scheme. It is typical of Sir William Hudson that his foresight, experience and tenacity have been directed especially to these aspects, and in the further three year term which the bill provides for him, the Government could take abundant advantage of his abilities in future planning along these lines, without which no water conservation work can be put in hand.

I say finally that Sir William's integrity, energy, and engineering ability compel admiration, and it is particularly appropriate, therefore, that the question of extension of the authority's field of activities to other great water supply and conservation schemes throughout Australia should rightly be dealt with while he is still in office during the next three years. I commend the bill to the House.

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