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Tuesday, 15 May 1973
Page: 2087

Mr GILES (Angas) - I also support the amendment before the Chair. I would like to get at the hub of the problem by demonstrating to the Committee the complete interest of certain sections of the non-capital city area in relation to the matters before the Committee in this Bill. I refer in particular on this occasion to those, for instance, who are downstream on the Murray River from the projected Albury-Wodonga complex. 1 do this to demonstrate to the Committee that the interests of the people of Berri, Barmera, Waikerie, Renmark, Mildura and other areas further downstream are inextricably involved in this form of regional development.

I was seated in front of a television set and I heard the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) say that no feasibility studies were done on the project to establish Albury-Wodonga as a growth centre. I am not here, as the honourable member for Casey (Mr Mathews) was, to say that work' has been done. I am just quoting the Minister's own words that no feasibility studies were done on the Albury-Wodonga project. The next question that the Minister was asked as 1 sat and looked at the giggle box was: 'If that is so, was the decision to build the regional complex at Albury-Wodonga purely a political decision?' To that the Minister replied: 'Yes'. I must say that this was not in accord with my idea or, I think, with the idea of the majority of the members on this side of the chamber. I do not believe that capricious, perhaps emotional decisions should be made which will involve millions of taxpayers funds and/ or loan funds. Surely, even now in this ripe age of expenditure this proposal should have some semblance of economic correctness before a decision is made. Honourable members on this side of the House say that people downstream from Albury-Wodonga have a very real say in this sort of complex regional establishment. The name of the Bill should not be the Cities Commission Bill. AH sorts of people are involved in this question.

I would like to be a little more precise in relation to this matter. The people downstream from Albury-Wodonga are concerned with a problem which to my mind has not been tackled, let alone answered, to their satisfaction. If there is to be a city of 300,000 people at Albury-Wodonga - this is the upper limit that has been mentioned but it may prove to be hopelessly wrong - and a city of 200,000 people at Monarto as it is to be called now, in South Australia, there will be a very great call upon the waters flowing down the River Murray. Figures which I have worked out on the basis of the best scientific evidence I can get at this point of time suggest that by the turn of the century, if not before, Albury-Wodonga, having reached the ultimate size proposed and based on a water usage rate of 100 gallons a person a day, which is very rapidly becoming a most conservative judgment of water requirements, will require 10,950 million gallons a year while Monarto will have a requirement of 7,300 million gallons a year. With the advent of a new petro-chemical works at Port Pirie, another 100 million gallons will be required, and at Port Stanvac, with additions to the refinery, the requirement over the next 10 years will increase to 5,000 million gallons of water a year.

The point of all these figures is quite clear. It is no earthly use looking at a river and saying: 'From its total flow we will take 15 per cent and that will leave us 85 per cent to play with'. If we worked in this way, for many years in a decade we would not have water running in the river. That is a factor that must always be allowed for. My fear in relation to the interests of people downstream from such a regional complex as Albury* Wodonga is that the demand on the river system will be too great to enable us to meet tie future requirements of the people in addition to providing a reasonable flow down that river. It is even worse when States, such as my own State of South Australia, have dependent on those waters capital cities like Adelaide with outer suburbs like Elizabeth, which in terms of design will not bow even to Canberra. Let us face it, States have achieved this sort of development without any real help from Commonwealth governments. However, leaving that aside, when States like South Australia have capital cities like Adelaide whose foundation, industry and water requirements to an increasing extent are dependent upon the flow of the Murray system, and if governments continually go up stream to build these projects, any town downstream near the coastline, such as Adelaide, will be subject to grave danger. If the Minister has consideration for arid areas of Australia or areas which have no catchment or any high rainfall zone surrounding them, he should not go upstream and build major cities because if he does so he will pollute out of existence everybody who lives downstream.

I support very much the point made by the honourable member for Darting Downs (Mr McVeigh) that simple alterations to the title of the Bill involve more than words. The very existence of people downstream, their families, expansion, irrigation requirements and settlement - as in my own State, the very existence of the people of Adelaide - are dependent upon water going downstream in the River Murray in a non-polluted state. Wherever people settle and build cities, they pollute water. They also pollute in other ways and, on behalf of my friend the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton), I inform honourable members that we will be moving an. amendment on this point later in the Committee stage. People pollute mainstreams of water, and I know of no action which has been taken by this Government or by the Government of South Australiawhether Albury-Wodonga is a political decision or not - to ensure that there is an agreement to make sure that all water utilised is purified before it goes downstream for other people to use.

I admit that during the last State election, the Premier of South Australia was rustled up to come to Canberra to discuss this very point. He went back to South. Australia with a series of meaningless words but certainly no agreement. It costs real money to re-cycle water once it has been used by city and industrial complexes or even by irrigators. In passing, I should like to say that I do not have much time for my colleagues over the border in Victoria who, to my mind, issue far too many water licences in that area. This is another contributing factor to pollution of the main stream in South Australia in the area for which I am responsible.

But I shall let that point go for the time being and in the minute that I have remaining to me I sum up by saying that I hope this House will take note of the fact that, in a low rainfall area with no catchment available next door, regional complexes should not be built upstream without assurances to the people who live downstream in towns and around irrigation systems or who are dependent on this water, as in the case of people living in a capital city, that proper precautions have been taken and that there has been an agreement between a disinterested State government and a Federal government which should be vitally concerned with the environment and the interests of the people downstream, to make sure that those waters reach those people in a pure state. Mr Deputy Chairman, I have discussed these matters for reasons which may perhaps have looked to you to be rather ambulatory. I return to the point before the Chair. This amendment should be supported because the sort of people about whom I have been talking many of them city dwellers, all have a big interest in the action of this Government and in my opinion, the naming of the Commission and of this Bill are an important adjunct to their future interest and involvement.

Motion (by Mr Daly) proposed:

That the question be now put.

Mr Giles - Mr Deputy Chairman, I raise a point of order. We are in the Committee stage of the Bill. The Minister cannot move that the question be now put unless he is referring only to the specific clause under discussion.

Mr Daly - It refers only to that clause.




Question resolved in the affirmative.

Question put:

That the sub-clause proposed to be omitted (Mr Anthony's amendment) stand part of the question.

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