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Wednesday, 25 February 1959

Mr MENZIES - Yesterday, the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) asked a series of questions regarding the recent floods in New South Wales, and I promised that I would answer the question to-day. I am now able to inform the right honorable gentleman that no request for assistance has been made, up to the present time, by the New South Wales Government. That is not entirely surprising, because these things have to be worked out in point of detail. At the request of the New South Wales Government the dragline mentioned by the right honorable member for Cowper has been made available by the Commonwealth Department of Works on two occasions of major flooding in the Clarence River area, in order to assist in the clearance of debris. I have ascertained that, on this occasion, following arrangements between the State authorities and the Commonwealth Department of Works, the drag-line arrived in the area on 4th February and is being employed in accordance with locally-arranged task priorities. It is under the control of the District Engineer of the New South Wales Public Works Department, who is in contact with local government authorities in the area. The cost involved - approximately £1,000 a month for three months - has been provisionally accepted by the New South Wales Government. I emphasize " provisionally ", because other arrangements may be made. In accordance with its usual practice, the Commonwealth Government will consider sympathetically any requests that might be received from the New South Wales Government relating to these floods.

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