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Tuesday, 9 March 1971
Page: 737

Mr ROBINSON (Cowper) - I suggest to the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) that in the interests of the electors of Nambucca, which is in my electorate of Cowper, he should seriously consider withdrawing his amendment. He should do so on the ground, as I mentioned earlier in this House, that there has not been a detailed investigation into the flood mitigation possibilities on the Nambucca River. It is true that discussions of a very preliminary nature did take place between State Government authorities and the shire council. In those discussions reference was made to the problem of any cost implication as far as ratepayers are concerned. As I understand it, the view was expressed by the council that it did not wish to become involved in a scheme if it would place a burden upon its ratepayers. It reasoned that there is no major flood problem on the Nambucca River. There is no inundation of property or other effects as is the case on other rivers. Notwithstanding this, however, because of river bank erosion and evidence which justified certain conservation work, it was thought fit that further investigations should be made by the New South Wales departments concerned, mainly, of course, the Department of Conservation. 1 understand that these investigations will be carried out.

It would be quite wrong for us arbitrarily and without authority to include the Nambucca River in a programme of flood mitigation works by supporting the amendment because, firstly, there is no estimate of the cost of the proposal and, secondly, there is no firm arrangement between the council and the New South Wales Government. In other words, we would be usurping their rights if in this Parliament we took action along the lines suggested by the honourable member for Dawson. Another factor to be taken into account is the position of the adjoining shire of Bellingen in respect of the Bellingen River flood mitigation proposal which will involve a total expenditure of $810,000. The Bellingen shire council has, by resolution, decided thai it docs not wish to participate in the scheme, and the question of how this matter will be disposed of arises.

I believe that it would be quite wrong to support the amendment which simply highlights the political manoeuvring that has been attempted this evening by the Opposition in relation to this matter. The Opposition has failed to recognise the fundamental approach originally made with local government, through the proper processes of local government, by numerous conferences. Officers who were appointed to deal with these matters drew up firm proposals with estimates of costs properly assessed and based upon calculations made as a result of engineering surveys and so forth. There was no mystery about the original proposals. They did not emanate merely from some political discussion. They came from a basie approach contained in what was known, at the time, as the Salter report. This report was prepared by a most worthy local government clerk, with the assistance of all the local governments interested in this matter. His work was so outstanding that he was subsequently recognised in an Honours List. If my memory serves me correctly, he was awarded an M.B.E. chiefly because of his efforts in this field. Mr Salter passed on a couple oi years ago. He has not been mentioned in this debate. I mention him now because his report is so relevant to what we are now discussing, namely, a proposal that we should initiate in this Parliament something that involves local and State governments, when in fact, the move should undoubtedly come from them initially. I suggest, in all seriousness, to the honourable member for Dawson that in the interests of the people he, apparently falsely, believes he wants to help, he should withdraw his amendment.

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