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Tuesday, 26 November 1974
Page: 2733

Senator WRIEDT (Tasmania) (Minister for Agriculture) -I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

Again I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Devitt)- Is leave granted?

Senator Wood - No.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENTLeave is not granted.

Senator WRIEDT -The purpose of this Bill is to enable a grant of up to $120,000 to be made available to Queensland for the construction of urgently needed flood mitigation works on the Proserpine River. The grant is conditional upon matching expenditure being provided by the Queensland Government and the Proserpine River Improvement Trust on the basis of 40 per cent Federal, 40 per cent State and 20 per cent local authority contributions and is consistent with the Government's overall approach to the problem of flood mitigation.

Following the extensive and disastrous floods which occurred throughout Queensland earlier this year, the Australian Government offered to undertake investigations jointly with the Queensland Government for the preparation of a State-wide plan on flood mitigation. The Australian Government's intention was that such a plan could form the basis of consideration for financial assistance.

The Queensland Government, in responding to this approach, indicated that one of the works which was considered most urgent involved a flood mitigation scheme for the Proserpine River. In the past, landowners along the Proserpine River have constructed levee banks to protect their properties, but the capacity of the middle and lower reaches of the river are inadequate to contain even floods which are estimated to occur once every 3 years. The town of Proserpine and adjacent rural areas are therefore likely to be flooded relatively frequently and a scheme for diverting flood waters upstream of the town has been proposed. Detailed investigations of the complete scheme are still in progress and the Minister for Northern Development (Dr Patterson) has arranged for the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation to provide expert advice on the proposed scheme.

The floods of January 1974 created an urgent situation by damaging some levee banks and greatly eroding an existing natural floodwater Break-out ', with the result that flooding caused considerable damage to property and crops. This has created the need for urgent restoration of the damaged works before the next wet season to prevent further widespread damage from even a minor flood.

The Australian Government has considered assistance for these restoration works as a matter of urgency to facilitate construction before the next wet season. The works are already in progress and include reinstatement of the damaged levee banks and the provision of better control at the floodwater 'break-out', at a total estimated cost of $300,000.

This Bill will enable the Australian Government to provide funds towards the cost of construction of these urgent works. The request for further Australian Government assistance for the complete flood mitigation scheme will be considered when the detailed investigations are completed. In keeping with the Australian Government's positive and constructive approach towards flood damage restoration and flood mitigation, financial assistance is warranted for this project. I commend the Bill to the Senate.

Debate (on motion by Senator Cotton) adjourned.

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