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Wednesday, 23 September 1936

Senator HARDY (New South Wales) . - I direct attention to the item, £120,000 for expenditure under the River Murray Waters Act. I assume that this is part of the progressive development of the River Murray waters scheme, which embraces 26 locks and the Hume dam. No water conservation scheme in Australia is of such a high potential value as the Hume Reservoir. Every honorable senator who has seen it must have been impressed by the magnitude of the work. The original proposal was to impound 2,000,000 acre feet, but construction work ceased when the weir impounded 1,250,000 acre feet. Is it intended to raise the dam to a sufficient height to impound 2,000,000 acre feet within the next few years? The allocation of the River Murray waters is a vexed problem that has given rise to a good deal of controversy. The average citizen believes that there is sufficient water under the control of the River Murray Commission to meet the whole of the requirements of Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia; but I am informed by Mr. Shaw. ex-Commissioner for State Rivers in Victoria, that actually the amount available is limited and is not sufficient to meet all the requirements of the users in the three States. Perhaps the Minister can throw some light on this matter, and I should like to know definitely if a fixed proportion of the available water is reserved for each riparian State, or if that State which displays the most initiative in the development of its irrigation proposals has allocated to it the largest quantity. This is a matter which has been causing a good deal of concern to a number of people on the New South Wales side of the Murray.

Senator A.j. McLACHLAN (South A ustralia - Postmaster-General) [8.6] . - As Senator Hardy has said the capacity of the Hume Reservoir is 1,250,00 acre feet, whereas the original proposal was for a dam impounding 2,000,000 acre feet. It is not the present intention to increase the capacity of the dam beyond the point at which construction ceased and the road was built across the top of the weir. The allocation of the available water is provided for in the river Murray agreement, and whilst difficult questions of law may arise - I trust they will not arise during my time - T am assured that the agreement ensures ample supplies for ail the States concerned.

Senator PAYNE(Tasmania) [S.8 |. - I notice that expenditure this year under the War Service Homes Act, to be paid to the credit of the War Service Homes Trusts Account, is £200.000. Last year the vote was £11.5,000. If I am in order I express the hope that, in this item, the Government is making provision to ameliorate the conditions of many occupants of war service homes, from whom recently there came an urgent request for relief by a revaluation of their properties. We all know that the majority of war service homes were erected at a time when all building costs were exceedingly high. Many places costing from £800 or £1,000 could to-day be built for much less. Therefore, it is unfair to penalize the occupants. In view of the difficult financial position of so many returned soldiers there should he a revaluation of their properties. They should not be expected to carry an undue burden of interest and repayment due to excessive building CostS

Senator Abbott - Is the honorable senator referring to time payment purchases and mortgages, and doss he suggest that in each case there should be a revaluation?

Senator PAYNE - I do not think there should be any differentiation.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Thematter which the honorable senator hat mentioned has nothing to do with this bill.

Senator PAYNE - I should like to know if there is any connexion between the increased vote proposed this year and the request which has been made to the department for a revaluation of th« homes ?

Senator A.j. McLACHLAN (South

Australia - Postmaster-General) [8.10] . - If relief is contemplated, provision must be made in another measure. Tha amount of £200,000 includes loans to purchasers to connect sewerage, £28,000; loans to purchasers to provide extra accommodation, £38,000; renovations to homes of purchasers who are unable to maintain the properties as provided in th« act, £4,000; loans for the erection of homes, £50,000 ; and loans for the acquisition of existing properties, including the discharge of onerous mortgages, £S0,0O0.

Senator HARDY(New South Wales) [8.12 J. - 1 should like some information about the proposed expenditure of £30,000 on the Australian War Memorial at Canberra. I do not criticize the amount set aside for that purpose; on the contrary 1 think that we should pay proper tribute to our worthy dead. But the item suggests to me that we ought to make provision for a memorial, not only to Australian soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice in the Great War, but also to other national heroes - such men, for instance, as the late Sir Charles Kingsford Smith and the late C. T. P. Ulm. We should erect a memorial in which, from time to time, we could place tablets to the memory of distinguished leaders, who, in science, politics, or any other sphere of public activity, helped in the development of the nation and furthered the welfare of the people. It would be a good thing for Australia to have a Hall of Fame. The idea is not new; other countries have such places in which they perpetuate the memory of their 'great men; so it is only fitting that we should honour in some way distinguished Australians whose services have been of an outstanding character. At present, if this is desired, it means the erection of separate memorials to individual citizens; a Hall of Fame, in which we could place tablets to the memory of our distinguished citizens, is a much better idea. I believe that the Government proposes to erect a memorial to perpetuate the memory of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith and Mr. C. T. P. Ulm, and I ask it to consider my suggestion.

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