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Tuesday, 15 May 1973
Page: 2092

Mr UREN (Reid) (Minister for Urban and Regional Development) - As I want to co-operate with the Opposition, I will accept the amendment moved by the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles). I remind the honourable member that it was a government of his political persuasion which nominated the members of the National Urban and Regional Development Advisory Committee which is now to be called, of course, the Cities Commission Advisory Committee. The right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) said that there were no environmentalists on the Advisory Committee. In fairness to the previous Government, I think I should say that Professor Walsh is not just close to being an environmentalist but is in fact an environmentalist. I am correcting the right honourable member for Higgins. Professor Walsh is Chairman of the Great Barrier Reef Study Committee of the Australian Academy of Science, Chairman of the Advisory Committee on the Environment to the Australian Government through the Minister for the Environment and Conservation, Chairman of the Research Advisory Committee on the Crown of Thorns, past Chairman of the Joint CommonwealthQueensland Crown of Thorns Starfish Inquiry and a member of the Immigration Planning Committee. At present there is one vacancy on the proposed advisory committee. Unfortunately I had committed myself to the appointment of a person before this debate came before the Committee and this is one reason why I have accepted the amendment. Professor Walsh is one environmentalist on the committee now but the Government will make sure that another environmentalist will be appointed to it.

I am pleased that Opposition members are now showing some concern about environmental matters. I want to co-operate with them, as I hope do all members of the Government, in this field. I give a clear undertaking that all aspects of environment and quality of life will be dealt with in the development of the Albury-Wodonga region. In the feasibility study which was carried out by an eminent engineering firm based in Adelaide the environmental aspect was dealt with in depth. The Government is, to a great extent, using the experience of Canberra because, after all, Canberra is an inland city through which flows the Molonglo River. This flows into the

Murrumbidgee River which, in turn, flows into the Murray River. The rivers are all connected. When one is dealing with the environment one considers all aspects so I urge honourable members opposite not to get too uptight about environmental problems associated with the development of Albury-Wodonga. When one is talking about the problems of the Murray River catchment area one is not considering only the Murray but also the Murrumbidgee, the Lachlan and the Darling. These rivers are all interconnected.

The former Minister for the Interior, the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt), is well aware of the experiences of Canberra and of the proposed treatment of the water of the lower Molonglo River. After treatment at a centre, which will be built at the junction of the Molonglo and the Murrumbidgee Rivers, the water will be pure and people will be able to swim in it. This is the type of experience the Government will seek to apply at AlburyWodonga. I am pleased to be able to cooperate with the Opposition in adding a member to the proposed advisory committee. That member will be experienced in environmental matters.

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