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Wednesday, 20 September 1972
Page: 1631

Mr Les Johnson (HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Opposition would like to be associated with this project because it recognises the great need for this facility in the Darwin region and it appreciates also the deep interest which has been exercised by the people of Darwin during the several inquiries that have taken place. Life in Darwin is not all beer and skittles. Hazardous conditions are often encountered. Climatic conditions often present problems and difficulties to people. The Opposition feels very strongly that whatever amenities can be given to the people in that region to make their life more tolerable should be given. Of course, all around Australia the people require sewerage, and we are pleased that among those who are getting it is the large number of people in the Darwin area.

The matter to which the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) has referred is significant for a number of reasons. Foremost among them, I think, is the democratic process which has taken place about this matter. The involvement of the people in Darwin in this and many other matters is of very great interest. A community spirit is developing in Darwin of which the rest of Australia can be very proud and from which many parts of Australia can learn a great deal. In this issue the people of Darwin felt primarily that they were not being provided with an adequate sewerage scheme. I think the Minister has made it clear that there have been 3 inquiries into the Darwin sewerage scheme. I understand that when the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works completed its first inquiry in 1969 it had the impression that there was a fair degree of satisfaction about the proposal, but as further facts became available and were ventilated public disquiet about the matter started to develop. The other significant issue involved in all this, of course, is the developing consciousness about environmental matters in Australia, and it is good to know that in that extreme northern part there is no less sensitivity about such an issue.

The Darwin sewerage scheme, as the Minister has said, involves pumping stations, gravity and rising mains and a lime precipitation treatment scheme incorporating sludge incineration and disposal of effluent into Ludmilla Creek at a cost of $4.8m. The report that was brought down in May 1969 covered a northern zone scheme and a central zone scheme. In fact the northern zone scheme was completed. The central zone scheme was criticised principally for the deleterious effects which many people thought would result from use of the marine outfall. It was felt there would be a serious health hazard caused by pollution and that there could be long term ecological effects on Darwin Harbour and other waterways in the Darwin region.

So in August 1971 the matter was referred back to the Public Works Committee. In almost every case, the nonofficial witnesses demonstrated their concern. Many spoke on behalf of organisations. It was interesting to note the conflict which existed. I have no doubt that the experts from the Department of Works had a great deal on their side because they are very well informed people. In fact, one of the leading representatives from the

Department of Works in respect of sewerage matters holds an extremely high position in international circles.

Mr James - He is a world authority.

Mr Les Johnson (HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Yes, Mr Jones is a world authority. He is the vice president of an international sewerage engineers organisation. Although he stood his ground, there was dissension on the part of a large number of people in the community. It was decided by the Committee that it was not expedient to proceed with the original proposal and a report was brought down in November 1971.

In 1972 the matter was referred back to the Committee and the Committee has now decided on another scheme which has been generally outlined by the Minister. It involves the treatment of central zone sewerage in a lime precipitation process plant near Ludmilla Creek although the technique of the lime precipitation process is quite historical and has been used over the centuries, it is not commonly utilised throughout Australia. Generally speaking, the scheme involves the treatment of raw sewage to remove sludge, the carbonation and discharge of effluent into Ludmilla Creek, the incineration of the sludge and the chlorination of the effluent, if necessary. The scheme which is to be implemented will be capable of serving some 40,000 people and, subsequently I think it will serve some 62,000 people. It has the capacity to connect to an area that is now - unpleasantly, I believe - discharging effluent into the Seabreeze outfall and the Frances Bay South outfall. It provides also for the future connection of Doctors Gully which at a later stage will cost about $1.4m.

The Opposition is very pleased at the approval of this proposal because the people of Darwin have made their strong feelings known on the matter. I congratulate them on finally achieving what they require in the way of an efficient treatment scheme which will retain the magnificent waterways and the ecology of the Darwin region.

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