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Tuesday, 27 October 1970

Mr GORTON - I have not seen the attack to which the honourable member refers, but we must remember that Mr Dunstan, the Premier of South Australia, has caused considerable delay on the start of a project which could greatly increase the water supply to South Australia and be of great benefit to that State. We must remember that he took it upon himself to defeat in the South Australian Parliament a Bill embodying the agreement which would have enabled Dartmouth to go ahead, that agreement having been ratified by this Parliament, by the Parliament of New South Wales and by the Parliament of Victoria.

Mr Morrison - The then Premier was defeated on this issue.

Mr GORTON - Yes. That agreement having been ratified by this Parliament, by the Parliament of New South Wales and by the Parliament of Victoria and being of great advantage to South Australia in that it gave an extra 250,000 acre feet a year, was defeated by the present Premier of South Australia. That is merely a matter of history. Therefore we must also remember that he asked for a conference on this matter with the representatives of the other States and of this Government and, that conference having been held, he was unable to bulldoze the other States into agreeing with what he wanted. I can only hope that he will not persist in this obstinate course of action and that we will be able to go ahead with a project which will be of great benefit to 3 States including, particularly, South Australia.

I do not remember whether when Mr Dunstan initially came to Canberra 1 suggested to him that he would need to sign the agreement which had already been agreed to by all the other States or he would be unlikely to get anything at all, but if I did say that I was warning him of what the situation was and what the situation has turned out to be. In relation to the other matter he raises! - apparently the question of rail standardisation and the alleged long delay in answering his initial letter I can only say this: Certainly in lune the Premier wrote to me expressing unhappiness with an agreement on this matter which had been reached with the previous government after Maunsell and Partners had made an investigation of the matter on a brief agreed to by the Commonwealth Government and the Government of South Australia. 1 cannot say on what date he wrote his letter or posted it because he sent it off without a date on it. But we got it on 12th June and it was acknowledged on 29th June. Following that, and bearing in mind that this complicated matter of rail standardisation had been the subject of a report by Maunsell and Partners and had been the subject of interdepartmental consideration, and consideration and discussion with South Australia, a suggestion that the whole thing should be changed into something else obviously required considerable discussion with the Treasury and with the Department of Shipping and Transport before any final reply could be made. I am surprised at this outburst from the Premier-

Mr Hayden - Did you sign the acknowledgement?

Mr GORTON - Of course I signed the acknowledgment. Do you not like this story being unfolded? Are you trying to stop it? I have just pointed out the lack of basis for this outburst on behalf of the State Premier. I am surprised that it should have happened, because when he was up here for the Premiers Conference he came to speak to me and he advanced in a reasonable way his worries concerning the report put in by Maunsell and Partners, his worries concerning the efficiency of that scheme as opposed to a scheme suggested by the South Australian Railways Commissioner, his worries about various economies and his willingness to pick up any extra moneys involved himself, and after a very amicable conversation al that time we said: 'Right, we will have a look at this again.' He has been written to and told that it would be examined to se whether the views he put forward were reasonable or right, but it appears, just as in the case of delaying the water supply to South Australia aud trying to blame someone else, he is trying to make unjustified political capital out of a case where we are trying to meet him and where so far nothing more has happened.

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