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Thursday, 4 April 1946
Thursday, 4 April 1946

Mr.Speaker (Hon. J. S. Rosevear) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and' read prayers.


rebuildingofdarwin:petition- administratorirrigationofkatherineriverbasingoldminingat tennantcreek.

Mr.BL A IN. -I present a petition from certain citizens of Darwin and electors of the Northern Territory, praying that the plan known us the MclnneaMillerSymonds Plan for the now layout for the town of Darwin be adopted and undertaken forthwith.

Petition received and read.

Mr. BLAIN.- In view of the report in yesterday's press thatan outstanding irrigation engineer fromWestern Australia has been appointed by Cabinet as Administrator of the Northern Territory, will the Minister for the Interior make use of the high technical qualifications of the now Administrator by instructing him to have a complete engineering survey made, under his supervision, of the Katherine Riverbasin,with a view to having an irrigation weir constructed there for the purpose of growing cotton, tobacco, ramie fibre, and soya beans?

Mr. JOHNSON.-The engineering qualifications of the new Administrator were one of the factors that influenced me in recommending his appointment to Cabinet. Whilst I am not now prepared to issue instructions regarding the matter referred to by the honorable member, I shall confer with him, in conjunction with the now Administrator, with a view to having an investigation of the proposal.

Mr. BLAIN.- During the war, most of the mining machinery at Tennant Creek was impressed, and the miners were ordered to leave the district and engage in other industries. However, the Eldorado Mine was not affected by that order, and operated throughout the war. Will the Minister for the Interior inform me whether a decisionhas been reached to erect one battery at Tennant Creek, or three batteries in the surrounding districts ? The miners favour the erection of three batteries, because they would obviate the necessity for long distance carting. Now that the value of this gold-field has been so well proved, does the Minister propose to provide a water supply for Tennant Creek?

Mr. JOHNSON.-After some research, the Department of the Interior was successful in securing the services of a highly qualified manager to take charge of the local battery at Tennant Creek. The manager has arrived at the town, and is now engaged in overhauling the battery.

Mr.Blair. - Will one battery or three batteries be erected?

Mr. JOHNSON.- When I was at Tennant Creek, two proposals wore submitted for my consideration. The first was that a central battery should be erected for the purpose of supplying power not only to the mines but also to the town, and, if necessary, for a water supply if that wore provided. The second proposal was that at least three batteries should be maintained in districts surrounding Tennant Creek. However, no definite decision will be made until interested parties at the town have been given an opportunity to state whether they favour a central battery or several batteries.

Mr.Blain. - The Minister is prepared to consult the people of Tennant Creek on that matter, but he will not consult the people of Darwin about a subject which vitally concerns them.

Mr. JOHNSON.- The honorable member asked a question relating to conditions at Tennant Creek, and I am answeringit. Regarding leases, the Department of the Interior during the war took the necessary precautions to preserve the rights of persons who had enlisted at Tennant Creek in order that someone else might not " jump " their leases during their absence. These leases will not be freed until the Department is certain that the owners have been demobilized and are able to submit their claim on an equality with any other interested parties.

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