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Wednesday, 13 May 1970

Mr SWARTZ - I know that the honourable member for Cowper and the honourable member for Paterson have raised this matter on a number of occasions and have a special interest in it. The position is that an application was made by the New South Wales Government to the Commonwealth before the end of last year for consideration of a further grant to assist with the flood mitigation programme which it intended to continue. During the election campaign the Prime Minister did indicate that flood mitigation would be one of the items to be included in the new water development programme. On 23rd December 1969, after the Government had been returned to office, the Prime Minister wrote to the Premier of New South Wales informing him of this decision and asking for advice as to the priority he placed on the proposal. Subsequent to that, officers of my Department and officers of the 2 departments concerned in New South Wales have had quite a number of discussions.

A letter was sent by the Premier of New South Wales to the Prime Minister about the end of last month indicating that certain data which had been requested was being provided. The data which was provided was in fairly general terms and did not conform to the normal criteria laid down for consideration of these proposals. Subsequent to that my Department has been in constant touch with the 1 departments in New South Wales. They have been asked as a matter of urgency to provide the data which is required. I have undertaken already in this House that as soon as the information is received I will give it first priority. The information will be considered by the interdepartmental committee of the Commonwealth and its recommendation will be processed for consideration by the Government immediately. I would anticipate that, as the officers of the 2 departments are meeting at this very moment, within the next couple of weeks they should have the information required in the correct form and we will be in a position then to place the matter before the Government for urgent consideration.

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