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Thursday, 21 May 1970

Mr JACOBI (Hawker) - I wish to raise the question of the Chowilla and Dartmouth dams and to make an analysis of where the Liberal Party members in South Australia stand on the issue and particularly where Country Party members stand. There is no doubt where members of the Liberal Party stand on this issue but there is certainly some confusion as far as the Liberal Party, members in South Australia are concerned. In a recent grievance debate the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) in his concluding remarks had this to say:

But any party that tries to play ducks and drakes on a matte, so important as water is to South Australia deserves the censure it will unquestionably get at die State election to be held soon.

The honourable member was looking for the adjective 'capricious'. It means: 'guided by whim', 'inconsistent* or 'irregular'.

When the diversion of the headwaters of the Murray into the Mumimbidgee took place Sir Thomas Playford, a Liberal Premier of South Australia, challenged this and as a result of that was able to extract from the then Commonwealth Government in compensation for the diversion of that water an undertaking that the Chowilla dam would be built in South Australia. Subsequently the Chowilla project was ratified by the 3 States and the Commonwealth in 1964. If the word 'capricious' means anything at all it cannot be used to describe the attitude of the Labor Party in South Australia. If cannot be applied to S>r Thomas Playford. Much as I regret to say it, it cannot be applied to the independent Speaker in the South Australian Parliament, Mr Stott. If anything, one thing above all that can be said of the Labor Party, Sir Thomas Playford and the Independent Speaker in South Australia is that they have been consistent in trying to safeguard the welfare of South Australia by insisting on the Chowilla dam.

If the honourable member for Angas wants to accuse any political party of acting purely from political caprice it should be the Liberal Government in South Australia and in the Commonwealth. Let us look at the confusion that exists amongst the Liberal members from South Australia. The honourable member for Angas had this to say on the question of Chowilla:

Is it possible that Chowilla will be built. Tt is to my interest ultimately that it should be. It is something for which I will fight on behalf of my electorate when I see any possibility.

When the Bill was before the House the honourable member for Angas gave no indication thai he would attempt to amend the River Murray Waters Agreement to ensure that Chowilla would be built. Let us look at the position of the Country Party. If one looks at copies of Hansard of 8th and 9th April 1970 one will see that the only Country Party member who passed any observations at all on the question was the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull). In my speech at that time I said:

What I find singularly odd is that in a press statement early last December the Australian Country Party's Federal Council adopted the South Australian motion calling for a close study of the case for building the Dartmouth and Chowilla Dams at the same time. I wonder what decision the Country Party members in this chamber will make on both of these Bills.

As I understand it, the honourable member for Mallee was speaking for the Country Party when he said:

I am not saying when I will build it or when the Government will build it. ... I might even support the building of Chowilla at a later stage.

He said that it was not correct that the Federal Council of the Country Party had agreed to build Chowilla and Dartmouth together. They agreed to consider investigating the possibility. That was precisely the recommendation implicit in the amendment that the Labor Party moved in the second reading debate.

Mr Hurford - Is that from Hansard?

Mr JACOBI - Yes. He further said: i spoke against the Chowilla Dam being built . . .

Let us not give up the hope of Chowilla being built.

Then he said: i say to honourable members opposite: Do not forget about Chowilla; keep it in mind, and every time you get the chance say something about it.

What are we faced with -today? We are faced with a mountain of confusion. This is what the honourable member for Mallee, speaking on behalf of the Country Party, said: 'I am not saying I would build Chowilla. I might even support it. 1 spoke against its being built.' Surely this is incoherent to anybody who tries to analyse it. Now, one of the reasons why I rose to speak tonight is that the honourable member for Mallee has challenged my colleague, the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby), to stand on the banks of the River Murray and, as I understand it, to confront him, perhaps with the support of Government Ministers, on the subject of wheat. But now apparently the honourable member for Mallee is going to wriggle out of that and deal with the question of Chowilla. I think it is about time that he found some courage en -the issue and said one way or the other where the Country Party stands on the question of Chowilla.

Dr Gun - And on wheat.

Mr JACOBI - And on wheat, in particular. His Part>> is a part of the Government which has failed the Australian people. There arc no two ways about that. What has to be understood is that 10 years work has been done on Chowilla and $6m has been spent on it. Where is the next storage to be on the River Murray? As I understand it, if the computer analysis is of any assistance at all, undoubtedly it will be at Chowilla.

As regards the question of confusion as to where the next storage will be on the

River Murray, as I said in my speech on 8th April, there is no doubt in the minds of the independent member in South Australia, Mr Stott. After a complete analysis of the waters of the upper river, apart from the dominated councils along the river, the growers throughout the upper river area are supporting the simultaneous construction of both the Chowilla and Dartmouth dams.

Mr Turnbull - They are not doing that in the Mallee.

Mr JACOBI - 1 am not interested in the Mallee at the moment. In the few moments that I have left at my disposal 1 want to indicate what the honourable member for Angas has failed to inform the House. It is my belief that the Liberal Party in South Australia, which has had no right to govern since 1968, has used the question of Chowilla and Dartmouth as an excuse to hold an election at this point of time, rather than holding an election in March of next year. There are 4 basic reasons for this, and they are sound reasons. The first is that the Government in South Australia knows full well that this year's Budget will not be very acceptable to the Australian people. The second reason is that the ramifications of the Budget will have adverse economic effects on the people of South Australia. The third reason is - and there are no 2 ways about it - that primary industries are in one complete mess because of the ineptitude of this Government for a period of 20 years. This will have an adverse effect on the electors' votes in the country areas of South Australia, if the State election is left until March of next year. The fourth reason why the Government in South Australia is to hold an election at this point of time-and I raise this matter for those people who are not aware of it - is that we have the greatest electoral gerrymander and it is associated with the Upper House in South Australia. It is a national disgrace. The Government in South Australia knows full well that, if it goes to the polls at this point of time, the Upper House is not forced to go to the polls. That House has not faced the electors for 81 years. I believe that these are the basic reasons why the Liberal Government in South Australia has decided to go to the polls at this time.

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