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Tuesday, 15 March 1966

Mr Reynolds (BARTON, NEW SOUTH WALES) s asked the Minister representing the Minister for Works, upon notice -

1.   Has the Minister stated on several occasions during the last seven months that the Commonwealth would not consider expenditure of moneys on remedial work along Botany Bay foreshores unless liability for the damage was established?

2.   Did the Minister say that the Government would await the provision of a report from the Wallingford Hydraulic Research Station before making any decision on the matter?

3.   Did the Minister, on the 8th March, 1966, indicate that the Government, without acceptance of liability or responsibility, would contribute to the cost of certain urgent work required along the foreshores?

4.   What are the precise details of the work to be carried out or subsidised by the Commonwealth as a result of this decision, and what is the total cost involved?

5.   Is it a fact that this decision was made prior to any consideration of the Wallingford report?

6.   if so, why did the Commonwealth resist making its contribution some months earlier when such action could have prevented much of the extensive damage that has been caused to public and private property since the first representations were made to the Government?

7.   What are the main findings and recommendations of the Wallingford report?

8.   What responsibility and liability does the Commonwealth propose to accept arising out of this report?

Mr Freeth - The Minister for Works has supplied the following information -

1.   The Minister has stated that if damage to the foreshores of Botany Bay could, without question, be shown to be due to the dredging carried out by the Commonwealth in order to construct the new Mascot Runway then the Commonwealth would take appropriate measures to alleviate the situation.

2.   The Minister has stated that the Maritime Services Board of New South Wales approached the Wallingford Hydraulic Research Station in England in order to obtain a report on the matter. This report was asked for by, and was provided to, the Maritime Services Board.

3.   On the 8th March 1966, the Minister announced that certain urgent work on a portion of the foreshores of Botany Bay would be paid for by the Commonwealth.

4.   The work to be paid for by the Commonwealth consists of work which the Rockdale Municipal Council considers necessary to prevent possible damage to the promenade near Brighton Baths. This work was estimated by the Council to cost $5,000 and is now being carried out bv the Council, and the Commonwealth will reimburse the Council the $5,000 required. Further work will be carried out by the Works Department, assuming the permission of the Maritime Services Board, at Cook Park in order to prevent possible future damage by erosion. The cost of this work can only be estimated but it is thought it will be in the vicinity of $10,000.

5.   This decision was made prior to the full consideration of the Wallingford Report and to the discussions between the Council, the Maritime Services Board, and the Commonwealth, which the Commonwealth has suggested.

6.   The Commonwealth acted in advance of these discussions, and without assuming or admitting any legal liability to do so, in order to prevent serious damage which might have occurred and which the Commonwealth decided to prevent whether or not it had a legal liability to do so.

7.   The Wallingford Report is the property of the Maritime Services Board of New South Wales which is the body with the right to make it public.

8.   Pending full discussion and agreement between the various bodies concerned the honorable member must know that it is impossible to answer this question.

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