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Wednesday, 24 March 1965

Senator GORTON (Victoria) (Minister for Works) . - in reply - I am pleased that the end sought to be achieved by this Bill is approved by both sides of the Senate. I agree with those who have already spoken that the economic results which will now from this dam will be of great benefit to India and Pakistan, and particularly to the people living in the areas to be served. I think I should say a word or two about Senator Dittmer's attack on the Government, although I do not suppose anybody, least of all himself, took it seriously.

Senator Dittmer - You would not expect us to take notice of it.

Senator GORTON - I said " least of all himself". He must realise, being an intelligent man, that his attack on this Government is, in fact, an attack on all the governments engaged in this scheme and on the World Bank, which did the engineering surveys and the estimating for the whole of the plan. I do not think that even he would claim that the World Bank and all the governments associated with the scheme were lazy and inefficient and did not pay any attention to the job in hand. The plain fact of the matter is that the World Bank did a survey of the scheme and this was the project that was put up to, and agreed to, by all the contributing governments. Subsequently Pakistan sought some alterations to the engineering works which she thought would be of some assistance to her. The World Bank made further investigations and suggestions and after a long period of protracted negotiations the original alterations sought were found to be too great to be approved by the contributing governments and a modified engineering scheme, with some increases in cost, was agreed to. This will provide a more effective economic benefit than that to be derived under the original proposition. In any case, if there is criticism to be levelled, it is levelled at all those governments engaged in the scheme. It is quite absurd to try to level it at a particular government which has joined in this scheme and has contributed about li per cent, of the total cost of it. I say that there is no real force or substance in the criticism which has been directed at this Government.

Senator Dittmer - I did not level it at the Australian Government.

Senator GORTON - The trouble is that the honorable senator makes criticisms to which he is not prepared to stand up. When they are rebutted he relies on interjections.

Senator Dittmer - You are rebutting something that does not exist.

Sentaor GORTON. - I am rebutting the honorable senator, so perhaps we agree in essentials. Having dealt with that particular point, there remains little more to say because there is on both sides of the chamber agreement as to the benefits which will flow from this contribution to the living conditions of the people in that part of the world. The scheme has the added benefit that a possible area of conflict over water supply - where the source of the river is in one country and the flow of it is in another country, which could lead to great tension - has been resolved. Not only do economic benefits flow, but that cause of possible clash has, as a result of this overall agreement, been resolved.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

In Committee.

The Bill.

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