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Wednesday, 13 March 1968

Mr FREETH (Forrest) (Minister for Air and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) -I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

This Bill seeks the approval of Parliament for an amendment to the New South Wales Grant (Flood Mitigation) Act 1964 to raise the upper limit on the Commonwealth's financial assistance payable under the Act from $5.5m to $8m. Under this Act the Commonwealth is making available to New South Wales non-repayable grants over the 6-year period ending June 1969 as a general financial contribution towards the cost of flood mitigation works on certain coastal rivers in the State. The financial assistance is made available on the basis of matching dollar for dollar the State Government's contribution. The State contributes $3 for every $1 spent by the local authority in the case of the Hunter River, and $2 for every $1 spent by local authorities in the case of the Macleay, Richmond, Clarence, Tweed and Shoalhaven rivers. The Commonwealth's assistance is being provided in recognition of the national importance of flood mitigation works on these particular rivers.

Over the 4-year period to June 1967, a total of $4.2m has been paid to the State by the Commonwealth under the Act. The State Government has advised that the flood mitigation programme on the six rivers over the 6-year period will cost more than had been originally estimated when the scheme commenced in 1963. Because of this, the Commonwealth Government, following discussions with the State Government, has agreed to seek approval for the maximum Commonwealth contribution to these works to be increased by $2.5m - that is, from $5.5m to $8m. Taking into account also the amount still available to the State under the existing Act, namely, $1.3m, there would be a total of $3.8m available to the State from the Commonwealth for expenditure on these works this financial year and next. I commend the Bill to honourable members.

Debate (on motion by Mr Luchetti) adjourned.

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