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Thursday, 3 May 1973
Page: 1722

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Dr Jenkins - I remind honourable members that the Bill before the House refers to prescribed rivers and indeed lists those prescribed rivers; so the debate is not as restricted as it would appear to be at first.

Mr ANTHONY - I thank you very much, Mr Deputy Speaker, and I am sorry that the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) had to try to stifle me and take up my time. I do not intend to speak for long, but 1 have the capacity to speak for the full time if that is what he is wanting.

Mr Daly - I have the capacity to move the gag too.

Mr ANTHONY - All right, you try it; but we have the capacity to disrupt the House. We are well experienced in relation to the Leader of the House trying to gag debates, and if he wants to engage in that sort of performance we will respond to it. The title of this Bill is not long. It refers to rivers along the whole of the seaboard of New South Wales. I thank the Chair for so ruling as to give me permission to talk about these rivers. People were demanding that the Commonwealth immediately provide the money to carry out flood mitigation work. It took repeated representations to make these people realise that it had to be done through the State Government and that it was the responsibility of the State Government to present a case to the Commonwealth for consideration. It was only when the States prepared a detailed submission which could undergo a cost benefit analysis that the Commonwealth became involved. I am pleased to say that the cost benefit analysis of that time, which showed that there was a good return on that sort of investment, has been vindicated.

The success of the scheme has been enormous. I believe that low lying areas in the river basins would have been depopulated and would not have had the productivity they now have if flood mitigation had not come into being. In the areas I know so well - that is, in the Tweed and Richmond basins - land along the lower rivers has been developed very extensively into sugar cane growing areas which are as productive as any other areas in Australia. Production has expanded considerably to make the mills efficient. This would not have been possible without flood mitigation. The flood mitigation scheme puts the onus on the land holders in the areas to which it applies. They have a levy imposed on them by local government authorities to pay part of the cost. I believe that this is a good system. They are just not sitting back and expecting somebody else to pay for the increased benefit to the area.

I shall deal now with the amount of finance that is involved. The scheme at first was to cost $5.5m for the 6-year period from 1964 to 1969. Unfortunately, because of rising costs and amendments to the proposals put forward, a supplementary grant had to be given, taking the amount up to S8m for that first period of operation. In 1971 a new act was brought into being which enabled the scheme to be expanded to cover not only the first 5 rivers that were accepted but also a number of other rivers which are included in this Bill, that is, the Bellinger, the Hawkesbury, the Moruya and the Hastings Rivers. This has enabled other people to receive the benefit of the scheme. Apparently because the 3 creeks named in this Bill were not immediately adjacent or connected to the Tweed River but were associated with the scheme there was some delay in having them included, but I compliment the Government for reconsidering the matter and having these 3 creeks, which are part of an overall river system, included in the legislation so that payment may be made -for the flood mitigation development that has taken place already on 2 of the creeks. The work done has enabled a satisfactory outlet into the sea by the provision of break walls, drainage work and flood gates along the creeks. I think that the most important question about the new flood mitigation proposals is whether the $9m now provided-

Mr Daly - I rise on a point of order. I contend that this Bill is not about flood mitigation proposals. It is about 3 creeks and what the proposals are for flood mitigation has nothing whatever to do with the Bill. It is restricted to section 3 of the New South Wales Grant (Flood Mitigation) Act.

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