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Thursday, 8 December 1960

Mr BURY (Wentworth) (12:18 PM) .I, too, would like to support the reappointment of Sir William Hudson, whose term of office as Commissioner of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority has been accompanied by a great sense of achievement and a certain uplifting of spirit generally towards projects of this kind. Among his other achievements, of course, is the creation of a wonderful propaganda machine - a combination of facts - which has succeeded, amongst other things, in anaesthetizing the critical spirit of inquiry into the scheme- just as the critical faculties of the House at this moment have been somewhat dimmed.

What we do know about this scheme in which Sir William Hudson has played such a . otable part is that, since it was first adopted, the calculations upon which it was based have changed very considerably. Certainly the relative costs of capital such as the rates of interest at which such long term projects are being financed, have changed remarkably, as has the relevant cost of generating thermal power compared with hydro-electric power. 1 do suggest that at some time in the future it would be of great interest to have reinforced our belief that such a very large proportion of the capital expenditure available in Australia for all purposes, including a number of the things which honorable members on both sides support so heartily, should be directed so heavily, relatively, towards the Snowy Mountains scheme. Sir William Hudson, of course, is particularly well qualified to direct the operations in the southern section of the scheme. Before we reach the point of no return in this section it would be interesting to have from the Government a reappraisal of all the facts.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! I think the honorable member is now getting a little wide of the bill.

Mr BURY - This is a task with which I gather that the reappointment of Sir William Hudson is closely connected in view of his experience with the rest of the area. I feel sure that this is essentially a sound scheme but it would be interesting to have the reappraisal which I have advocated. Honorable members may laugh this off at this late hour but it is interesting. After all, any scheme which absorbs such a large proportion of our total capital resources per annum should be on a very sound basis and should be justified by the initial calculations on which the scheme is based. We ought to reaffirm in the mind of the taxpayer who has contributed towards the cost of the scheme that it is basically sound.

There is one other point that I wish to make. It concerns the future employment of the Snowy staff. There seems to be very little doubt of the quality of the engineers concerned. Like civil engineers the rest of the world over, the best of them move around to various schemes in the course of their engineering life and I have no doubt that their record on the Snowy will ensure that however long they stay there, in the end, other employment opportunities will readily be open to them.

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