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Wednesday, 23 August 1972
Page: 328

Senator McLAREN (South Australia) - Like other senators, I give full support to this Victoria Grant (Millewa Pipelines) Bill which has been brought into the Parliament. I do so knowing full well that this scheme will provide for the people in the Millewa area the water supply which they have been lacking in 'years gone by due to .the evaporation .of, water in the open channels there. We of the Australian Labor Party are pleased that the Government saw Jit to make this amount' of money available to Victoria. However, as a South Australian, I am. a little disappointed that, we are running into a lot of trouble in getting a similar grant for the problem that exists in my State. I am concerned about a passage in the second reading speech by the Minister for National Development (Sir Reginald Swartz) and a Press release he made on this1 'scheme in which' there appears to be an inconsis tency. In ' his speech the Minister said that this money was to be made available to Victoria for this scheme and that it would be allocated from the $100m grant being made available for rural water conservation and supply works. In the memorandum distributed when the Bill was introduced the Minister. said:

The. main pastoral enterprise in . the area are wool growing and fat lamb production with a small amount of cattle grazing. Over the last decade a great amount of pasture improvement has been undertaken, mainly with Harbinger clover and lucerne. This has' increased the potential carrying capacity of the country. However, stock numbers remain limited' at present, due to the shortage of water and the large distances between dams.

We of the Labor Party fully agree with that statement and that is why this scheme is so sorely heeded. However," further on in this memorandum the Minister said:

Construction of the pipeline is not expected to change greatly the existing pattern of production. However, an increase in the stocking rate is probable as water will be made available closer to improved pastures. Although it is difficult to determine the increase in stocking rate, it is considered that there could be an increase of up to 20 per cent in stock numbers.

This is the point that concerns the people in South Australia where there is a problem on the Eyre Peninsula over the Loch-Kimba pipeline. We have been trying for some considerable time, through the State Labor Government in South Australia, to get a grant similar to that being provided for Victoria. The Minister for National Development, in answering a question asked by a colleague of mine, the honourable member for Grey (Mr Wallis), recently said something completely contradictory to what he said in the memorandum on this Bill. I quote from Hansard what the Minister said:

The Premier of South Australia has now been informed that the Commonwealth is not prepared to consider financial asssitance for the LochKimba scheme at this 'stage. Having regard to the uncertain situation in the wool industry it is deemed inappropriate to provide special assistance under the National Water Resources Development Programme to. support an expansion in the industry in one area, at the same time as the Government is involved hi measures to alleviate the economic problems of the industry generally.

This is the point that concerns us in South Australia, so much so that the State Labor Government recently made available $650,000 out of State funds to carry on some of the work on the Lock-Kimba pipeline in order to assist the. farmers in that area. I. express the wish here in the Senate tonight that the Commonwealth Government will give urgent consideration to the submissions made by the South Australian Labor Government and that in the not too distant future it also will share in the $100m which has been made available.

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