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Wednesday, 14 March 1973
Page: 540

Mr HANSEN (WIDE BAY, QUEENSLAND) - My question is directed to the Minister for Northern Development. Can the Minister advise what progress has been made on submissions by the Queensland Government for Commonwealth financial aid for stage 2 of the Bundaberg irrigation project, which the Minister will be aware is necessary to complement the work at present under construction - work that will stabilise production of cane sugar, on which the prosperity of Bundaberg and Childers depends?

Dr PATTERSON (DAWSON, QUEENSLAND) (Minister for Northern Development) - I am well aware of the problems of the Bundaberg-Bingera-Gin Gin area in respect of the production of cane sugar. Phase 1 of the present construction program will cost approximately $20m, of which the Commonwealth has contributed $ 12.8m. The Commonwealth's contribution consists of the construction of the Monduran Dam, a major dam on the Kolan River, the main pumping station and the main Gin Gin channel. With the remaining $8m the State is constructing tidal weirs on the Kolan and the Burnett River systems. The Premier of Queensland has written to the Prime Minister asking for financial assistance for phase 2 of the project. The total cost of this work will be $30m and the Premier has asked for $1 8m in the form of financial assistance. Phase 2 will involve continuation of the project, construction of important weirs on the Kolan and Burnett Rivers and the linking of the main Gin Gin channel with the area of Bingera and then taking the water further towards the Isis area. The overall effect will be to make the very important sugar growing area of the Bundaberg district drought proof in most respects.

It is only a few weeks since the Premier wrote to the Prime Minister. He also asked for financial assistance for 8 other water conservation projects. I am afraid that it will take some time for the evaluation machinery to swing into action to enable priorities to be established with respect to water conservation projects not only in the north but also in the south. I can assure the honourable member that the project to which he has referred is being treated very seriously because the Government is aware of the substantial losses that have occurred in this area over the years. It knows also that the city of Bundaberg and surrounding towns depend greatly on the stability and security of the sugar industry.

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