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Thursday, 22 October 1970

Mr WALLIS (Grey) - In speaking to the estimates for the Department of Shipping and Transport I acknowledge the reply which I received from the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) in connection with the Maunsell report and the objections of the South Australian Railways Commissioner to certain facets of that report. A few weeks ago 1 asked the Minister a question on this matter and in his reply he appeared to blame the newly elected South Austraiian Labor Government for the delay that. had taken place, but my information is that after the Maunsell report came out it was examined by Mr Fitch, the South Australian Railways Commissioner. Mr Fitch had certain criticisms of the report. 1 understand that his criticisms or comments were not passed on by the former government. When the Labor Government took over in South Australia it examined Mr Fitch's proposals and passed them on to the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) with a request for a reconsideration of the proposals.

Perhaps 1 could mention % few of the objections that he raised. Although Mr Fitch did not tear the Maunsell report to pieces he did feel that there were some aspects of it which could be improved. He felt that the Maunsell plan would not provide a direct standard gauge connection to the bulk of South Australian industry, lt would involve the retention of a great deal of freight transfer while necessitating a longer haul to Port Pirie, Broken Hill and destinations in other States. It would result in the retention of the narrow gauge lines to Wilmington and Quorn, together with triple gauge yards at Gladstone and Peterborough. It would also introduce a dual gauge yard at Snowtown. Maunsell's estimates do not allow for development of commercial activities at Islington.

I feel that these criticisms are sufficient to justify another look at the proposals because Mr Fitch did submit 2 alternative proposals which, if accepted or if something could be worked out, would give a better service to industrial areas in South Australia, and this is something that the Maunsell plant would not provide. I would certainly hope that in discussions between the South Australian Government and the Commonwealth Government some satisfactory arrangements will be achieved so that Adelaide gets its standard gauge line and a line which will give the maximum amount of service to South Australian industry.

I would like to pass on to another matter which concerns my electorate. I refer to proposals that we on this side have fully supported. I refer to the building of the railway line to Whyalla and the allocation of $230,000 for a survey from Tarcoola to Alice Springs, which was mentioned by the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder). We on this side hope that these projects are brought to fruition within the next few years.

On numerous occasions the question of sealing the Eyre Highway has been raised in this Parliament by honourable members from South Australia and Western Australia. This roadway, as all honourable members will be aware, has 300 miles of unsealed surface. When this matter has been raised with the Minister he has stated that South Australia receives so much for its roads and that this highway is within the State's jurisdiction and that the State sets the priorities. I think we would acknowledge this but at the same time we must realise that, in considering the allocation to South Australia for roads, for South Australia to put all its eggs in the one basket is not being reasonable. In my electorate, through which this unsealed section of the Eyre Highway passes, there is also the road known as the Flinders Highway, which extends to Port Lincoln to link up with the Eyre Highway at Ceduna. There is also the north-south road, mentioned by the honourable member for the Northern Territory, which services the Woomera rocket range. Along all these roads major projects are being undertaken. On the Woomera road another 39 miles of track will be sealed. On the Flinders highway and on the Eyre Highway further work is being undertaken.

The State Government is doing work on a section of the Eyre Highway from Ceduna to Penong, a distance of 45 miles, but under present arrangements this project will take approximately 2 years to complete, lt appears as though the work is being undertaken in a piecemeal fashion. I suggest that the Government should look at this project and make a special grant to assist in the completion of the road. Mr Don Dunstan, the South Australian Premier, raised this matter when he was speaking during the weekend at a dinner in Whyalla which was sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce. He referred to the question of tourism and so forth. He stated that he would be prepared to meet one-third of the cost of completing this road if the Commonwealth would come to the party and meet the other two-thirds of the cost. 1 believe that this is too big a job for one State to handle on its own. 1 suggest that the Commonwealth should come to the party. It should have discussions with the South Australian Premier to see whether some arrangement can be made so that this highway can be sealed. Figures relating to the use of this highway indicate that approximately 133 vehicles travel over this road each day, and that a fair proportion of these vehicles is heavy transport. The figures also indicate that the number of vehicles travelling over this road is increasing by approximately 21 per cent per annum, which means that the amount of traffic is doubling every 3i to 4 years. lt is significant to note that 83 per cent of the vehicles travelling over this road come from beyond the State of South Australia. Probably they come from the eastern States and are moving westward to other points. 1 believe that because of this fact it is a little hard to place the whole burden for sealing this road upon one State. I believe that there is a need for the Commonwealth to come to the party and to provide some assistance.

As I have a couples of minutes left perhaps 1 should mention one other matter. I refer to the question of shipyards in Australia. We know that our biggest shipyard is at Whyalla. At the present time this shipyard is building the 'Amanda Miller', which is a ship of 62,000 tons. Those people who had an opportunity to look at the 'Amanda Miller' after the fire in the shipyard realised that because of lack of width of the slipway the fire fighting appliances could not be taken down to get to the seat of the fire, ft is obvious that a fairly large ship was being built in an area which was too small to accommodate it. 1 understand that the only docking facilities in Australia which are capable of handling a 62,000 ton ship are possibly the Cairncross dock in Brisbane, which is capable of taking ships up to 60,000 tons, and the Captain Cook naval dockyard in Sydney, which I think is capable of taking ships up to 100,000 tons. It is obvious that if we are going to move into the field of building bigger ships we will certainly have to provide larger slipways.

I know that some time ago there was talk that the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd had approached the Federal Government for a loan which was to be used to extend the company's slipways so that bigger ships could be built there. If we reach the stage where we want to build bigger ships - 80,000-tonners and so forth - we will find ourselves in the position where we will not have adequate docking facilities. Later when the Minister is replying to this debate I should like him to comment on the Government's plans regarding the building of further dockyards, if we are to take ships bigger than the 'Amanda Miller'. Also, I should like to know the Government's plans regarding the siting of future dockyards. If there is any plan to build new dry docks, to my way of thinking the obvious place in which to locate one would be Whyalla because it has the largest ship building yards in Australia. It has trained engineering staff, skilled tradesmen and so on. It is also in a sheltered position. From a defence point of view, it is away from the main waterways. I believe that if we reach the stage where a new dockyard is to be built, Whyalla would be the logical place in which to build it.

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