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Wednesday, 10 May 1972
Page: 1504

Senator TOWNLEY (TASMANIA) - 1 present the following petition from 91 citizens of the Commonwealth:

To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully sheweth:

(a)   That the Commonwealth Government has, over the last half century, supported the industrialisation of Tasmania to the extent of allowing Tasmania, for many years, to borrow from the Loan Council twice the annual State entitlement to invest in hydro-electric schemes to the extent that the net loan debt as at 30th June 1969 was $336m.

(b)   That the net result of this policy has been the attraction to Tasmania of industries producing zinc, aluminium, newsprint, calcium carbide, ferro-manganese, tin, pelletised iron ore, cement, and titanium oxide; all of which use large amounts of electricity such that Tasmania, with 3 per cent of the Australian population, uses IS per cent of Australia's electricity and the State's consumption, averaging 1 1,000 units per head, is second only to Norway's.

(c)   That, despite this industrialisation, Tasmania's share of the Australian population has actually declined and the Tasmanian share of the Australian work force has not increased.

(d)   That, in 1971, the University of Tasmania conducted an economic research investigation into the value to Tasmania of its large industrial enterprises showing that, of the 4 major manufacturing classes in Tasmania (Metals etc.. Food and Drink, Sawmills etc.. Paper and Stationery) which together account for 79 per cent of the value of production, Food and Drink had the greatest overall impact on output and employment in the State, and the conclusion reached was that, for further economic growth in the State, expansion in industries in the Food and .Drink sector should be encouraged.

(e)   That the non-ferrous metal smelting sector of the metal industries, which uses some 16 per cent of the total electricity output, has the smallest effect on employment in Tasmania, employing only 2.S per cent directly and 3 per cent indirectly of the Tasmanian workforce.

(f)   That the Annual Report of the Hydro-Electric Commission for 1970-71 pointed to the decline in industrialisation in Tasmania and suggested that future sales of electricity to new large users of industrial power were not presently forthcoming; that, during the term of office of the recent Liberal Government in Tasmania, no new industries which use large quantities ot electricity were established despite frequent announcements in local newspapers that new industries were negotiating to establish in Tasmania, while Comalco, late in 1971, announced a reduction in aluminium output of some 7 per cent; that Mr Reece, at the conclusion of the poll which returned Labor to the Government benches with a 21-14 majority, announced thai Tasmania had a surplus of power which it was the job of the new Government to try to sell.

(g)   Thai despite this failure of long-established policies of hydro-industrialisation to increase population, increase employment or even to continue to attract industry to Tasmania, there is no slackening of State investment in hydro-electric schemes and no questioning by the Commonwealth of the wisdom of continuing to meet Tasmanian demands for loan funds for this purpose.

(h)   That this problem is compounded when an assessment is made of the price paid by the Tasmanian people for continuing to pursue such policies in terms of the destruction of environment, pollution of waters, and elimination of beauty in this uniquely beautiful island State.

(i)   That, at this moment, the destruction ot Lake Pedder, Australia's most beautiful lake, is being hastened with unseemly and unwarranted dispatch for the purposes of completing a further hydro-electric scheme which will generate huge quantities of power for unknown and unimagined users at a time when the premier-elect has publicly announced an existing surplus of power in the State.

Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate in Parliament assembled will:

(a)   As soon as is practicable establish a Select Committee for the purposes hereinafter mentioned.

(b)   Immediately call upon the Hydro-Electric Commission of Tasmania or use whatever powers are available, to halt the flooding of Lake Pedder until at least a decision is made whether or not to appoint a Select Committee.

And your petitioners pray that the said Select Committee should enquire into Commonwealth expenditure on hydro-electric development in Tasmania with particular reference to the Lake Pedder Serpentine Valley area and the economic, industrial and ecological implications of continued hydro-electric development.

And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will eve pray.

Petition received and read.

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