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Wednesday, 23 August 1972
Page: 327

Senator WEBSTER (Victoria) - In my early life, prior to becoming a member of Federal Parliament, I always recalled the arguments that were put in another place by an early leader of my political Party. I refer to Sir Earle Page who, I think it could be noted, was one of the men who led the arguments in Australia for great water storages and for the benefits to be derived therefrom if this country was able to provide sufficiently for many of its productive areas through the introduction of adequate irrigation schemes.

I think that it is fitting that another outstanding Australian should achieve in some few months prior to his retirement from the Federal Parliament the adoption and introduction of a scheme which he has been sponsoring and has drawn to the attention of those responsible for our water resources development programme. That scheme will operate in his own electorate. I speak of Sir Winton Turnbull who is to retire at the end of this parliamentary term. Sir Winton is known for many things. His pronouncements in the other place on what was needed for the electorate which he represents are perhaps unique because there are very few areas in Australia where there is at least a scattering of a population that experience the dryness which has existed throughout the Mallee area of Victoria.

Politicians representing a specific area, by devotion and with perhaps some influence .in government, are able to derive benefits to bring to the people of their area schemes such as this one which I believe in future years will be a. monument and stand to the credit of Sir Winton Turnbull. I think that he will find no greater pleasure than knowing that the Millewa water scheme is now to have a piped water supply, as he has sought for many years. I know that the Senate will be interested that Sir Winton Turnbull will be succeeded in the other place - I speak confidently of this - by a young man, well known in the field of irrigation, and one who has a great interest in irrigation. His name is Peter Fisher. He will succeed Sir Winton in .the other place and again will bring experience in farm management knowledge field to the Parliament. This experience is so important in the northern part of Victoria and particularly in the Mallee electorate.

The scheme that is before the Senate for debate is a scheme for' redevelopment and upgrading of an already existing irrigation water supply. The amount of money required is in the vicinity of $3m and this project is to serve an area of some 560,000 acres. On any basis of comparison with other irrigation schemes brought before the Senate in past years, - this scheme undoubtedly will benefit a very large number of people and will result in production at no mean rate coming off this wonderful country. The class of country in the Millewa area is variable, but some parts of it are highly productive provided . they get water and that is what the Commonwealth will enable to happen under this scheme.

The present channel scheme supplies about 455,000 acres of land and there is to be an upgrading of the system in order to cope with further areas. Inefficiencies have developed since the earlier years. The first scheme was installed iri 1923, nearly 50 years ago. However, now we have modern construction methods and can use 12-inch pipes. I imagine that concrete pipes will be used to distribute this water throughout the total area that I mentioned. Undoubtedly this is not the only open drain scheme that will be converted to a pipe system. There has been great development in many manufacturing industries, particularly the steel and concrete pipe industries, and with modern machinery it is now possible to manufacture reinforced spun concrete pipes. These modern developments bring great credit to some of the larger Australian manufacturers, lt may be of interest to honourable senators to know that people come from America to this country to try to learn of the great developments that have taken place here as- a result of research and development undertaken by many of the Australian based companies involved in the production of pipes. We will require 2.1 miles of pipe for this scheme. The inefficiency of the present system can be seen from the single fact that in a year 8,200 acre feet of water is pumped from the Murray River system but eventually only 420 acre feet is utilised on farm properties. When this scheme is complete the loss of water through evaporation will be minimal compared to what happens with the present open channel system.

The previous speaker, Senator Primmer, mentioned the increased stocking that will take place. Honourable senators should realise that when this scheme is completed not only will a greater acreage be serviced but also the people on properties will be able . to gain some benefit by increasing their stocking rates. This scheme will come to fruition through a joint CommonwealthState arrangement and the grant for it is being made under phase 2 of the national water resources development programme. Honourable senators who have been in this place for some time have seen this programme grow. It has been of great benefit in nearly every State of Australia. Under the programme the Commonwealth undertook to make $50m available but that sum has been doubled to the very sizable amount of $100m. All this money is being made available in order to develop our land. Victoria will receive the benefit of this particular scheme in the early stages of the programme.

Irrigation and piped water are essential to Victoria, but they are even more essential in other States. I believe there is little argument in the Senate for the view that this work should not proceed. The introduction of this Bill is evidence of the great volume of work that has been done' on this programme. It gives me great pleasure to know that this type of insurance scheme is being provided for the people engaged in primary production in the Millewa area. I have great pleasure in supporting the Bill.

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