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Thursday, 29 November 1973
Page: 4162

Mr UREN (Reid) (Minister for Urban and Regional Development) - I do not want to delay the Committee, but I want to reply to the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) to put the record straight on this important and historic Bill. Firstly, the Australian Government has taken every precaution to safeguard the environmental standards of all growth centres. In passing, it is true that one of the comments on the water catchment area applies to Albury-Wodonga, which is not being discussed in the debate on this Bill. However, on the same water catchment as that which is being discussed, which would affect the South Australian border, is the BathurstOrange area. What has to be realised - and I hope that honourable members opposite really understand this - is that because AlburyWodonga is on the Murray River, it does not mean that that is the only centre that would affect the quality of water in South Australia. There is an interconnected relationship. All the water systems - whether it be the Murray River, Darling River, Mumimbidgee River or Lachlan River - are interconnected, and they will all affect the quality of water in South Australia.

It so happens that in this debate we are discussing the allocation of $24m, and part of this amount will be allotted to the New South Wales growth area of Bathurst-Orange, which is also on the same catchment area as Albury-Wodonga. So we are being very careful, and we are concerned. Might I say again that it is not the experience of our Government that we are going to use. The Government of which the honourable member for Angas was a supporter had experience of the water quality of the Murrumbidgee River to which the Canberra water supply is linked. It is also in the catchment area that affects the quality of water in South Australia. We are continuing - and in fairness to honourable members opposite, the previous Government actually made the decision to improve the water quality of the lower Molonglo River - the plan to set up a water treatment works on the lower Molonglo River to treat the water for Canberra which comes from the Molonglo and Murrumbidgee Rivers. These works will treat the water to such an extent that they will take even the nutrients out of it, and the water will be pure to drink as it comes out of the water quality works. We intend to apply to Albury-Wodonga and BathurstOrange, and to any other growth centres in inland cities, the type of experience which we have applied in Canberra. I give that assurance to all honourable members opposite. It is collective experience gained from what the National Capital Development Commission did under the previous Government. We are going to draw on that experience when planning for the development of any cities near rivers in the future.

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