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Wednesday, 12 September 1973
Page: 835

Mr FISHER (MALLEE, VICTORIA) - I preface my question, which I direct to the Minister for Defence, by informing him that townspeople and primary producers along both sides of the Murray River system have been striving for days to contain the worst floods in that area in living history. Thousands of acres of farming land have already been inundated but to date stock losses have been minimal owing to the complete co-operation of shire, police, State Rivers and Water Supply Commission and all other State authorities working with local volunteers. However, today the districts of Kerang and Swan Hill are facing a renewed and critical threat and I ask the Minister: If a request is forthcoming from civil defence officials who are meeting this morning will he make available Army support to the hundreds of exhausted volunteers who are reaching the end of their physical endurance patrolling and reinforcing flood protection measures?

Mr BARNARD (BASS, TASMANIA) (Minister for Defence) - I have read a report that it is intended to request Army authorities to provide support and assistance in the Kerang and Swan Hill areas. The Australian Government, as its predecessors have done, has always recognised that a contribution can be made by defence forces when a national disaster occurs. In this situation if a request is received from the Victorian civil defence authorities, the Victorian Government, or indeed the honourable member, I will be happy to give it consideration and to ensure that support is available if it can be used for that purpose.

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