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Wednesday, 24 September 1902

Mr THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) asked the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -

Referring to the inquiry made on the 10th instant regarding the extensive irrigation scheme about tobe commenced by Victoria in the Murray Valley; also to his reply that the Commonwealth has only to do with navigation, and that conservation questions must be settled between the States themselves, will he, after consideration of sections 98 and 100 of the Constitution Act, say -

1.   Whether, in the preservation of navigation, it is not the right and the duty of the Commonwealth to inquire into, and approve or oppose as inquiry may justify, State enterprises for the Storage or abstraction of the waters of navigable rivers or their affluents? 2.Whether, in the interests of the Commonwealth and of the constructing State, it is not desirable that the inquiry shall precede rather than follow construction ?

3.   Whether a " reasonable" use does not imply that there shall be no undue abstraction by one State to the disadvantage of others interested of the water available for conservation and irrigation ?

4.   Whether the Commonwealth cannot, if need be, prevent by law the "unreasonable" use of such water ?

5.   Whether the report of the Royal Commission on the Murray River, now sitting, is not likely to assist in the determination of what is reasonable as regards the very waters being dealt with by the Victorian scheme?

6.   Whether he will see that the necessary steps are taken to safeguard the interests of the Commonwealth and of each of the States concerned ?

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