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Wednesday, 30 May 1973
Page: 2896

Mr FAIRBAIRN (Farrer) - About 4 weeks ago this matter came up for discussion. I led for the Opposition. It was late in the evening and I had nearly completed my speech when, under the new rules, time was called on me. I do not propose to go through the whole speech again but can I just very quickly state the Opposition's position on this matter. First of all, of course the Opposition supports this Lock to Kimba pipeline. I say 'of course it supports it' because this proposal was announced by the previous Government - the McMahon Government - and the present Government is just picking up the tab and putting into legislative form what we had agreed to do.

This proposal is that we should make a grant to South Australia of $2.1m under the national water resources development program. The original program of the Lock to Kimba pipeline was started by the South Australian Government at an estimated cost of $5m. When it had completed part of the pipeline the South Australian Government ran out of money and it is now estimated that $3m will be required to complete the scheme. The Commonwealth will pay $2.1m and the South Australian Government will pay the balance. The proposal is for 69 miles of trunk main on Eyre Peninsula and 170 miles of distribution branch mains for stock domestic purposes and for the 2 townships of Dark Peak and Kimba that will be served by this proposal on Eyre Peninsula.

At present Kimba is supplied from 2 small earthern reservoirs. The water supply is most unsatisfactory as the rainfall is about 16 inches annually. This proposal will provide a water supply to those 2 townships as well as supplies for stock and domestic purposes throughout the area with water pumped from the Polda Basin. It is of interest to note that the Polda Basin has a large quantity of high quality underground water which was found through the accelerated water resources measurement program initiated by the previous Government. All told 207 properties will be covered by the supply thus permitting increases in livestock numbers. The estimate on which the project is based is that it should be possible to increase sheep numbers by about 71,000 and cattle numbers by about 22,000, in addition to providing domestic supplies to farmers and people in the 2 townships that I have mentioned.

The annual net return to farmers in the area will be increased by nearly $lm. That estimate is based on a wool price of 40c per lb whereas at present wool is bringing far more than that. The Bureau of Agricultural Economics has said that it is an economically sound project with internal rates of return from 7.7 per cent to about 8.1 per cent. It is just one more example of the work of the national water resources development program, a program which I had the honour to initiate in this House some years ago. It has changed the face of Australia.

The total Commonwealth commitment for the program is about $150m. A number of dams have been completed and many more have been started. I refer to the Fairbairn Dam; the Kolan Dam at Bundaberg; the Copetoun Dam on the Gwydir River; the King River Dam; the Barr Creek and Lake Hawthorne weirs on the Murray River which prevent a lot of salt water from flowing back into the Murray River; the Keith-Tailem Bend pipeline; the Western Australian Comprehensive Water Supply Scheme, the Long.fordCressey irrigation scheme in Tasmania; the flood mitigation works costing about $9m in the north-east of New South Wales; and finally, 2 projects the future of which is uncertain. I do not know whether the present Government will proceed with them. I refer to the Pike Creek dam and the Millewa domestic and stock scheme. In addition to the enormous amount of work that has been done as a result of the national water resources development program, during the same period there has been considerable expenditure on the accelerated water resources measurement program and on the Ord River Dam, built at a cost of about $60m after many difficulties were overcome. Construction of the Dartmouth Dam is now under way at last after suffering some problems through Mr Dunstan and his colleagues.

The Blowering Dam has been completed and the Snowy Mountains scheme has virtually been completed.

The water resources program initiated by the previous Government has increased production enormously, and more importantly, it has stabilised production. This is particularly important to some of the remote areas of Australia which have an unreliable rainfall. It has also helped considerably towards decentralisation. The Opposition supports this measure, of course, because it was announced by the previous Government.

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