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Wednesday, 27 November 1985
Page: 2378


Senator MAGUIRE(4.54) —I move:

That the Senate take note of the paper.

I wish to address some remarks to the 1984-85 annual report of the Department of Resources and Energy. The Department has very diverse responsibilities covering a range of Australia's resources. Today I want to address a few remarks to the issue of water, which is a vital subject dealt with by this Department, and particularly vital in my State of South Australia which is the driest part of Australia with 90 per cent of the State receiving less than 10 inches of rain a year. I want to refer to the Federal water resources assistance program under which last financial year some $62m was spent on water resource projects throughout the nation. Of that amount, $1.3m went to the River Murray Commission to administer the Commission and also for certain capital works.

Some $5.7m was allocated under the water resources program for water filtration improvements in South Australia. The quality of water in South Australia has been very poor and these works, which have been partially funded by the Federal Government, have been very long overdue in improving the quality of drinking water in Adelaide to bring it up to an acceptable standard. As I indicated, last financial year some $5.7m was allocated for water filtration in South Australia overall. Of that allocation through this Department, some $3.2m was made available by the Commonwealth Government to assist the Bannon Labor Government to improve water quality in the Adelaide metropolitan area by continuing further water filtration works. I am pleased to say that a further $2.5m was made available by this Government to the Bannon Government to improve water quality in the northern towns of South Australia, the largest provincial city of which is Whyalla. The availability of high quality filtered water to the northern cities of Whyalla, Port Augusta and Port Pirie is long overdue.

It is very pleasing to note that the allocations made under the 1984 and 1985 Budgets through the Department of Resources and Energy have enabled work to proceed and to continue on the water filtration plant at Morgan on the River Murray where the pipeline which serves the northern towns, including Whyalla, begins. Work has been proceeding on that water filtration plant to improve water quality in the northern cities. In 1984 a further $600,000 was made available to South Australia under the water resources assessment program, which contributes to an assessment of the quality and quantity of Australia's surface and underground water resources. A further $700,000 was made available to South Australia from the 1984 Commonwealth Budget for works on River Murray valley salinity mitigation. That is under a co-ordinated three-State plan involving South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria to improve the water quality of the River Murray.

Of course, water quality and reduced salinity are of vital importance in the Riverland region of South Australia. Even more important was an allocation of $722,000 for urban flood plain management. That was a contribution to flood plain mitigation in respect of the River Torrens in the Adelaide metropolitan area. In recent years we had floods from the River Torrens into neighbouring suburbs, including the areas of Campbelltown, Paradise and Athelstone and flood damage occurred. These allocations from the Commonwealth Budget to the State Government in South Australia, to reduce the risk of damage from flooding in those important suburban areas in Adelaide in the Campbelltown local government area, are very welcome.

Of course, last financial year, the year to which this annual report refers, saw a special allocation to South Australia of some $20.25m for further works to improve water quality in South Australia, to enhance water filtration both in the metropolitan area and in the northern towns, including Whyalla. I am pleased to note that in the current Budget for 1985-86 a further $7.9m has been allocated by the Federal Government to Mr Bannon's State Government for further works on the filtration of water and to improve the general quality of drinking water both in the northern towns and in the metropolitan area.

It is very pleasing to note that the Morgan water filtration plant, which will be of vital importance to the northern towns, will be commissioned ahead of schedule in July 1986. That will be of enormous benefit to the residents of Whyalla and the other major towns in the north of South Australia. It is tremendous to see that that plant will be commissioned ahead of schedule as a result of the partnership between the Federal and State Labor governments.