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Thursday, 14 March 1968

Mr ADERMANN (Fisher) - I have been interested to listen to the speech of the honourable member for Gellibrand (Mr Mclvor). He has certainly intimated the heavy cost of the war. Nobody disputes that aspect. He told us the story of so many people suffering as a consequence of the war but war always causes such things. I listened in vain to hear his solution to the problem of stopping the war. Does he want us to walk out on the people who are trying to get the freedom to live? Does he want us to walk out and look on the other side? Does he say to this House that we want

Communist domination over South Vietnam? It means nothing less than that. Does he suggest that the starvation and suffering existing because of the effects of war are to be removed under a Communist regime in South Vietnam if we allow the Communists to over-run that country?

Mr McIVOR (GELLIBRAND, VICTORIA) - I suggested that it is possible to stop that sort of thing.

Mr ADERMANN - How do you stop it?

Mr McIVOR (GELLIBRAND, VICTORIA) - By giving them a life worth living.

Mr ADERMANN - We are trying to give the right to live in Vietnam to those who want to live there. We are not invading North Vietnam; we are leaving them alone but they are not willing to leave South Vietnam alone. We have the challenge. Are we to be like the priest and the Levite and walk by on the other side, not seeing the effects on the South Vietnam people if we walk out on them? The honourable member's whole speech suggested that we walk out. Freedom costs something and freedom is costing both Australia and the United States of America a lot in our attempts to help these people secure their freedom.

The honourable member for Gellibrand gave the financial cost of the war but he did not give the cost to the South Vietnam people if we were to walk out like cowards and leave them on their own. He is not interested in that. He is quite prepared to accept what his executive says and to walk out on these people. He will not assist them to get some freedom. Where does one contain Communism? The honourable member talked about it but if you do not contain it in Vietnam, where is it contained? If Russia wanted to stop this war she could do so by being joint chairman with the United Kingdom in resurrecting the Geneva Convention. Russia will not assist the situation; she will not help. All she wants is for turmoil to continue. We, as a free people, want others to be free; the stand that we as Australians take is that we want the people of Vietnam to be as free as we are.

I commend the honourable member for Eden-Monaro on the speech that he made concerning the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority. I want to say a few words about it. I do not know that I quite agree with all his contentions.

I support him in his desire to retain this great organisation, but not as a unit operating in only one centre. I believe we ought to retain the skill of the Snowy Mountains Authority not for use in one place but for diversified purposes throughout Australia. Queensland is using the skill of the organisation on the Kolan scheme, the design for which was used as the basis of an application for Commonwealth financial assistance. The Queensland Government is also using the Snowy engineers and designers on the Nogoa River scheme, which has been approved by the Commonwealth and can proceed to the construction stage expeditiously. In addition the skills of the Snowy team are being used in South East Asia. However, the point I wish to make is that we do not want an organisation like this kept together merely to be planted in the Darling or in any other one place in Australia when there are so many calls for water conservation throughout the nation. 1 believe in diversification of water conservation. We should conserve water where it is and where people are able to use it.

I am glad that water is being conserved in the north west of Australia. The Ord River scheme is to be completed. It will stand as an asset for ever in this great country, but its benefits will be confined to comparatively few people. In the sense that we must open up the north west of Australia, that is as it should be and I commend it, but if we confine all our finance to schemes of this magnitude, affecting comparatively few people in each instance, we shall never serve the best interests of the nation. Surely we learned our lesson from the disastrous drought in New South Wales and Queensland that persisted for 2 years. As it is breaking there, we find Victoria, southern New South Wales and South Australia in the throes of what is now regarded as their worst droughts.

If we are to cure the effects of drought we must have in this continent more and more water conservation. I was pleased to find a reference in our last policy speech to an allocation of $50m to be spent over a period of 5 years on water conservation but I say emphatically that it is not enough when measured against the need for water conservation. If we are to spend $50m over a period of 5 years, 12 or 18 months of that time must first be devoted to planning before construction can proceed. My plea to the Government is that in every centre where there is water, let it be conserved.

In Queensland we have local farm production schemes, one of which is not far from my property. At a cost of $560,000 it provides water for 205 holdings although not sufficient for irrigation. Not enough water is available for that but the farmers have an assurance against drought because half the battle is won when there is water on a property. If it is necessary to travel stock they lose condition. They have to travel a certain distance before they can get a drink and, by the time they return to their property, they are as thirsty as when they left. As a result they lose condition rapidly. The consequence of having water on a property is that the drought problem is met halfway.

Sitting suspended from 12.46 to 2.15 p.m.

Mr ADERMANN - Prior to the suspension of the sitting for lunch, I stated that because of the dryness of the continent in which we reside we must of necessity make provision for the conservation of more and more water. It is obvious that if wc could obtain sufficient water for irrigation purposes in any locality we would in effect counter in advance the effects of drought. We could make provision to carry us through. Let me give an example ot one of the schemes adopted in Queensland whereby water is supplied for farms. We have what is really a cheap financial proposition, and a good job is being done. This scheme is situated at Proston and supplies 170 rural holdings. The cost of supplying 205 properties with water is $564,000. The rural properties covered in this scheme amount to 66,500 acres. The scheme has 104 miles of piping. The State Government provides a 50% subsidy to help meet the cost and the farmers make a capital construction contribution. The annual usage - almost the total of the water that is available - is 30 million gallons. There is an assured water supply for farms. The very fact that the scheme works out so cheaply overall indicates that where there is a need for water, we have to do more to provide it. "Ve have to get small schemes, middle size schemes and, of necessity, large ones. So I say that we cannot be satisfied with a programme for the development of water resources involving the expenditure of S50m over 5 years. We can be satisfied with this as an initial contribution provided that this sum is committed in the early part of the 5 years so that it can be spent and construction can be completed within that period. But we cannot wait for the remaining part of the 5 years before this Government grants more finance to assist in meeting this very vital need for Australia.

Queensland has received approval for assistance for the Nogoa scheme. I mentioned earlier that personnel from the Snowy Mountains Scheme are being used very extensively in order to expedite the construction. The Queensland Government has made application for assistance for the Kolan scheme, which is situated in the fairly closely settled area near Bundaberg, lt may be a fairly costly scheme but nevertheless it will help many sugar farmers and assure their crop production. In addition, it will supply water for all other properties in the locality. 1 make a plea for sympathetic consideration by the Government so that the scheme can be commenced in the near future. A commitment of $20m in one State out of a total of $50m is a good contribution to that State. The Queensland Government has at least been working on the preparation and the design of schemes and is ready to proceed with construction. Because of the drought over the past 2 years, the Childers district, and the Bundaberg district, through which the Kolan River runs, lost two cane crops in succession. Honourable members can see the beneficial effect of water schemes not only to individuals but to the economy as a whole. The drought in Queensland and New South Wales has been succeeded by the devastating drought that is now gripping southern New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.

If we look back we find that a devastating drought occurred from 1902 lo 1910. Eight out of 11 years were very dry. Queensland lost two-thirds of its stock in that drought. We can better withstand a drought nowadays. But we could withstand one even better and save practically all our stock if we provided more finance for water schemes. So, overall, if I say nothing else in this speech, I say to the Government that $50m over 5 years is not nearly enough. We need more and more money and more and more water conservation in this continent of ours.

The other matter that I want to raise concerns civil aviation. I commend the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz) on the good job that he has done. I am not here to attack him. I say he is doing a commendable job. The Minister was good enough to come to my own town of Kingaroy and have a look at the aerodrome. He has been to Gympie with me and to other centres as well. Overall, we have to meet the changing circumstances and the changing requirements of civil aviation with growing importance of air transport. It costs millions of dollars a year to keep up with new developments. The pinpricking thing that worries me is the attitude of the Department of Civil Aviation to country districts. The Department wants shire councils to take over aerodromes under the local ownership plan but is not prepared to put the aerodromes in reasonable shape before the councils take them over. It makes only a penny pinching sort of arrangement with the councils. For instance, at Kingaroy, the local council is prepared to make a contribution to have a sealed strip and some' drainage provided. The Department has proposed that only the lower end be sealed and that no drainage be provided. Whenever rain falls, all the water would run down on the strip and cover the bitumen with silt. The Department has made a penny pinching offer of $15,000 for this financial year and a promise of an overall amount of $30,000. It would be far better, whoever paid for it, if the $80,000 needed for bitumen strip with reasonable drainage were provided.

Gympie is in a similar situation. The Department has offered some finance. 1 am not here to condemn the local council. I do not think that it is satisfied with this offer, which is for work on the end of the strip and on the apron. The point is that if the Government can invest $100m in the airports at Tullamarine and Mascot - I am not condemning this expenditure because I believe it ought to be made - and it cannot find even a few thousand dollars for country aerodromes, its policy is wrong and, as a representative of country people, I resist it very strongly. We must remember that improved country aerodromes would be a defence asset.

The final comment that I want to make concerns the allocation of funds for assistance to dairymen. I am glad to see this mentioned in the Governor-General's Speech. I had an initial interest in having these proposals formulated. I compliment the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) on the good work he has done in bringing the scheme to fruition. I am sure that he will be able to settle satisfactorily the differences that exist between the Commonwealth and the States and that the scheme will make a valuable contribution to the dairy industry. There are marginal dairymen. In the early 1950s we assisted marginal wheat growers. We can assist the dairy industry similarly. The scheme will be for the good of the industry and for the economic good of Australia.

In conclusion 1 want to pay a tribute to the late Harold Holt. For almost 9 years I sat with him in Cabinet, experiencing his friendliness and ability. His every action indicated that he was a man in the full sense of the term. If ever a man personified service to his country it was Harold Holt.

Debate (on motion by Dr Patterson) adjourned.

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