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Wednesday, 7 March 1973
Page: 349

Mr LLOYD (Murray) - On the night of Tuesday, 20th February, exceptionally heavy rain fell in the Seymour area in Victoria. I mentioned to the Minister for Defence (Mr Barnard), who was Acting Prime Minister at the time and who released a Press statement 2 days later concerning the flood damage that took place, that I wished to draw his attention to the matter. But I notice that the Treasurer (Mr Crean) is sitting at the table tonight. Although the Minister for Defence was Acting Prime Minister at the time of the flood I think this matter really concerns the Treasurer more than the Minister for Defence. The very heavy rain in the Seymour area came on top of heavy rain over the previous few days. The result was a disastrous local flood in which one person died. Altogether 135 houses along the sides of Whiteheads Creek were flooded, many of them seriously, and insurance is not payable on flood damage.

On Thursday, 22nd February, the Acting Prime Minister issued the following Press statement:


The Acting Prime Minister, Mr Lance Barnard, today expressed the Commonwealth Government's concern at the flood damage in the Seymour area.

In extending sympathy tothose who had suffered in the floods, Mr Barnard said the Commonwealth was prepared to sympathetically consider any request submitted by the Premier of Victoria for assistance.

He said the Commonwealth would join with the State Government of Victoria on a dollar for dollar basis in the normal way for financing schemes for the relief of personal hardship and distress in the affected area.

I congratulate the Acting Prime Minister on his promptness in this regard. Seymour is not in my electorate. It is in the electorate of the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Bourchier) who also was very prompt in directing attention to this matter.

I draw the Treasurer's attention to the fact that Seymour was not the only area that suffered that night in the heavy downpour.

The same cloudburst extended from Rochester in the north west to Seymour in the south east. It was not only in Seymour that houses were flooded and property was damaged. I make no criticism of the Acting Prime Minister for mentioning only Seymour because that was dramatic; that was where the news was. I ask the Treasurer for the same offer as was made for the flood victims of Seymour be extended to other people who suffered in a similar manner from the same rain on the same night.

Four types of flood damage resulted from the heavy rains in Victoria. In addition to house damage, damage to personal effects and property damage, hundreds of miles of fencing was lost in the Rushworth area that night. A considerable percentage of the tomato crop in the Goulburn Valley, which is the major area in Australia producing tomatoes for processing, was lost. Some of the crop was several feet under water for some days. The main irrigation channel which serves the Goulburn Valley burst its banks and intensified the flooding.

There was also road damage. The Shire of Charlton, which is in the Wimmera electorate, estimates that $75,000 will be required to repair road damage alone. The total rate revenue of the Shire of Charlton in a year is $100,000 or a little more. So virtually the whole of its revenue will be required to make up this loss.

There was also considerable damage from soil erosion in my area and in the Charlton area. I know it is always a problem to determine just how much flood damage assistance and what type of assistance can be provided. I ask the Treasurer to extend in a suitable manner the same assistance as has been offered to the Seymour people to the other people who similarly suffered. I suggest that this assistance could be given in the usual manner - that is, in conjunction with the States. The State members of Parliament for the area who represent all parties have spoken to the Premier of Victoria about this matter. I hope that the Treasurer, in conjunction with the Premier of Victoria, can agree to an extension of this flood damage assistance to all of the people who were affected that night.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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