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Wednesday, 10 June 1970

Mr FOSTER (Sturt) - On behalf of the Opposition I oppose clause 23 in its entirety. I would like to make a few remarks in regard to the Bill itself in condemnation of the attitude of the Government. Why does this Government persist in such wilful destruction of a Commonwealth instrumentality? This Government has seen fit completely to destroy a Commonwealth shipping line and also the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories to mention only two instrumentalities. We are about to witness in this chamber the legislative death throes of the remarkable giant, the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority. This organisation has been responsible for achieving a task of immense magnitude when measured in terms of organisational capability in the fields of construction, of investigation and survey, and of design and supervision. In addition, it has achieved a sound constructional contracting capability, and at so much less than estimated costs that it virtually should be the delight of any government - but unfortunately not of this Liberal Government. The Authority has achieved efficiency in all of these and many other fields. Why is this Government bringing down this legislation?

In anticipation that I will be asked by the Chairman to come back to the terms of this Bill, clause 23 restricts the number of employees and in fact gives complete control and complete dictatorial powers to the Minister for National Development. When this Bill comes into force and the Corporation is engaged in some project the Minister, if he gets a bleat from some section of private enterprise and is prevailed upon to do what he can to protect private enterprise, may well slash by 50% the number of employees within the Corporation. How can any corporation function efficiently in that event? The Snowy Authority has efficiently and effectively spent $40m a year and in so doing it has carried out its responsibility to the Australian Government, and, what is more important, it has achieved in the eyes of the Australian public, and almost completed, vast undertakings and numerous projects of which we as citizens of 'he Commonwealth can be extremely proud.

The Authority has lifted the mask from the thinking of the mental morass and submerged Sir Robert Menzies and his political lackeys in their attitudes to the setting up of the Authority in 1949. 1 refer to their childish boycott of the ceremony to mark the commencement of the undertaking. Later, those who condemned and damned the project hastened, almost indecently, to have their names inscribed on the numerous commemoration plaques that marked the stages of the project from time to time. Having heard the honourable member for Farrer (Mr Fairbairn) in his speech last night 1 suggest that he should hasten to the Snowy and have his name taken off the commemorative plaque in one of the power stations where it can be seen today. If one were to read a speech made by a previous Minister for National Development and relate it to what he had to say in this chamber only a few hours ago in support of the setting up of this Corporation, one phrase and one phrase only describes that person - an absolute hypocrite. His title is such that-

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