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Tuesday, 30 May 1972
Page: 2305

Senator WRIEDT asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:

(1)   How much money has the Commonwealth made available to Tasmania for Hydro-Electric Commission projects in each year since1960, and for which projects.

(2)   What restrictions or qualifications are placed on such loans or grants.

(3)   Does the Commonwealth stipulate that only certain amounts of specific payment grants or special grants shall be applied to Hydro-Electric Commission projects.

(4)   Has the Commonwealth Government involved itself in determining the correctness or otherwise of Commonwealth moneys being used to develop the scheme which will flood Lake Pedder; if so, to what extent.

Senator COTTON The Acting Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1)   All Commonwealth funds specifically intended for Tasmanian Hydro-Electric Commission projects have been made available under the Tasmania Agreement (Hydro-Electric Power Development) Act 1968. The funds provided to Tasmania under that Act are as follows:


These funds were provided to Tasmania on the basis that they were available only to help meet expenditure on the following power projects:

(a)   the completion of works in the Lower Derwent and Mersey-Forth areas;

(b)   the installation of a 120 megawatt thermal station in the vicinity of Bell Bay; and

(c)   the carrying out of the first stage of development of the Gordon River Power Development.

(2)   The restrictions or qualifications on the funds made available are set out in the Act. Amongst the more important are:

(a)   that Commonwealth assistance is only available to the extent that funds from the State's and the Hydro-Electric Commission's own sources are inadequate to finance the Commission's programme of development during the 5 years commencing 1st July 1967; and

(b)   that there is a maximum limit of $47m on funds available from the Commonwealth, which are by way of loan carrying interest at the maximum rate for private semigovernmental authority borrowings having a term of 8 years.

(3)   No. Special grams paid by the Commonwealth on the recommendation of the Commonwealth Grants Commission are general purpose revenue grants, as are financial assistance grants paid to the States. Funds available to the States under the borrowing programmes approved by the Loan Council are not allocated by the Commonwealth to specific projects. The use of specific purpose payments to the States is restricted to the purposes for which they are made.

(4)   While Commonwealth funds are available under the Act for the projects referred to in (1) above, I have been advised that the fact of Commonwealth financial assistance does not impose any requirement on the State to proceed with the projects regardless of other considerations. Accordingly, the question whether it should proceed with flooding of Lake Pedder is entirely a matter for the State.

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