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Wednesday, 7 March 1984
Page: 538

Senator McINTOSH —Has the attention of the Minister for Resources and Energy been drawn to a series of letters to newspaper editors from a Mr Jack Beale advocating the damming and diversion inland of northern New South Wales rivers? Is he aware of Mr Beale? Has Mr Beale always advocated the policy that he now advocates?

Senator WALSH —Mr Beale could be fairly described as a tireless Press correspondent. He has had dozens of letters published in the last 12 months or so advocating the damming and diversion inland of the coastal flowing northern New South Wales rivers. He has received particularly extensive coverage from that rusty flagship of the Murdoch fleet, the Australian, which has published no fewer than three letters from Mr Beale in the last five or six weeks including, I add, a reply to a letter of mine which was not itself published. I was advised very recently by that newspaper that it is not a good idea to send letters to it by telex because it was suggested to me that the three letters I had sent had all been lost because they were sent by telex-an act of carelessness and an oversight for which I suppose I should apologise.

Mr Beale is a former New South Wales State Liberal Party politician. He was at one stage the Minister for Conservation in the Government of Sir Robert Askin. In that capacity he issued on 7 February 1968-this is most pertinent to Senator McIntosh's question-a Press statement headed: 'Coastal Diversions Inland Uneconomic'. In the Press statement, among other things, he stated:

The time is opportune to put this matter--

that is, the diversion of coastal flowing rivers-

in proper perspective, otherwise agitation for inland diversions might become a barrier to effective water development in this state.

The most economic water projects are those already included in the state government's water plan.

He also stated:

Further, the coastal storage dams to provide the diversion would have little, if any, flood mitigation effect on downstream coastal townships.

Those propositions have all been contradicted by Mr Beale's recent statements on this subject. I suppose two conclusions are possible from the reversal of opinion that he has displayed. One is that when he was actually charged with directing public expenditure he was more rational and responsible than he now is . The other, I suppose is, that the years have taken toll of his cerebral capacity.