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Tuesday, 14 September 1971
Page: 1300

Mr Luchetti (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) asked the Minister for Ship ping and Transport, upon notice:

In regard to (a) the Commonwealth Railways and (b) each of the State railway systems can he state what was the (i) total debt as at 30th June 1971, (ii) amount paid in interest for 1970-71, (iii) rate of interest, (iv) extent of increase or reduction in capital debts during 1970-71 and (v) total value of assets as at 30th June 1971.

Mr Nixon (GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA) (Minister for Shipping and Transport) - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

The information sought for the financial period, ending 30th June 1971 is not yet available. The honourable member will be supplied with the information when the reports for 1970-71 are available.

Hume Weir (Question No. 3924)

Mr Grassby asked the Minister for

National Development, upon notice:

(1)   Has the level of water in the Hume Weir risen to a particularly high level despite a very dry winter.

(2)   Has the Albury-Wodonga Flood Committee estimated that Lake Hume will only have 2 feet of pondage from now on.

(3)   If so, has considerable concern been expressed at this situation.

(4)   Has the Committee also stated that the low level of the Murray River at Albury, 3 feet 10 inches, led to stock being bogged while attempting to cross the river.

(5)   Have there also been reports of stock straying from one State to another.

(6)   Will he investigate the position to ensure that there is no danger of flooding due to seasonal change and also to ensure an adequate flow into the Murray River as desired by the Committee.

Mr Swartz - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   to (5) Up to about the time that this question was asked, conditions in the Hume catchment had been dry, and there was very little snow in the upper catchment. The demand for irrigation supplies in the system had already begun, and there was a distinct possibility that there would be little, if any, spill from Hume storage. In this situation, since the primary responsibility of the Commission is to ensure adequate supplies for irrigation, stock, domestic, urban and industrial water supplies, the Commission's policy is to ensure that such supplies will not be wasted by excess releases early in the season.

The Secretary of the Albury-Wodonga Flood

Committee has written to the River Murray Commission along the lines referred to in questions 2, 3, 4 and 5. I would stress however, that at that time, 2nd August, release of additional water would have involved some risk to future supplies in the River Murray system.

(6)   It is clearly impossible to ensure that there is no danger of flooding due to seasonal change, unless of course it is desired to try to have the storage virtually empty at the end of the winter period, in the hope that large floods which occasionally occur in the spring can be controlled. Such action however would be completely incompatible with the principal purpose of the Commission referred to above, with which I assume the honourable member entirely agrees. This is not to say however that the storage cannot provide some measure of flood mitigation, and it is the policy of the River Murray Commission to operate the storage in such a way as to achieve such flood mitigation as is possible, consistent with the primary water supply objective.

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