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Thursday, 26 September 1974
Page: 1453

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Media) - I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

Mr Deputy President,I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Webster)- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-

The purpose of this Bill is to authorise a nonrepayable grant of $2. 56m to the Queensland Government towards the cost of constructing stage 2 of the Ross River Dam near Townsville. The Queensland Government and the Townsville City Council will together meet the balance of the cost of stage 2, at present estimated at $5. 12m. The construction of stage 2 is being advanced to ensure adequate water supplies for the fast growing population of Townsville and neighbouring areas in the Shire of Thuringowa now totalling about 80,000 persons and expected to reach 100,000 by 1980. Stage 2 of the Dam construction will ensure an additional daily supply of 83.6 megalitres (18.4 million gallons) bringing the total daily supply for Townsville and its environs from all sources to about 166.4 megalitres (36.6 million gallons) for domestic, industrial and municipal purposes. It will also provide for increased domestic consumption levels which are limited by the present restrictions, because supplies are often severely inadequate over drier periods.

There are other important implications for Townsville in stage 2 of the Ross River Dam project. It will increase the flood mitigation storage in the dam and virtually secure Townsville against flooding of the Ross River. In so doing, it will enable the City Council to plan with confidence the future use of areas of flood-prone land under its control. Further, the storage of some 417,000 megalitres (338,000 acre feet) in a dam, only 30 kilometres from the centre of the largest city in northern Australia, should provide valuable opportunities for relaxation and recreation. Proposals are being examined to have the storage area declared a flora and fauna reserve. The construction of stage 2 involves raising the height of the stage 1 spillway by 6.5 metres (21.5 feet) and the embankments by 4 metres (13 feet), including the placement of some 1.53 million cubic metres (2 million cubic yards) of earth, sand and rockfill. In addition, about 16 kilometres ( 10 miles) each of the Flinders Highway and the Great Northern Railway will need to be relocated due to the enlargement of the storage area.

Townsville is a city of considerable importance, not only to the north, but to Australia generally. Its major industries are export-oriented, based on the rich resources of its hinterland, including a copper refinery to process concentrates from Mount Isa, a nickel refinery now under construction to handle the output from the Greenvale nickel deposits and 3 abattoirs, two of which process livestock mainly for export. Townsville also handles exports of sugar from the Burdekin region, one of Australia's most important sugar districts. Townsville has been selected by the Australian Government for study as a possible growth centre. Its growth over recent years owes much to Australian Government decisions, such as the location of defence installations, the establishment and growth of the James Cook University and work now in progress on the Institute of Marine Science at

Cape Cleveland. The prospective provision of international air traffic facilities at Townsville would provide a further stimulus to growth. In fact, it was specifically in recognition of the burden on the public utilities of Townsville created by the various Australian Government initiatives that we decided in 1973 to provide a grant of $1.5m towards the cost of constructing stage 1 of the Ross River Dam.

The Department of Northern Development and the Department of Urban and Regional Development have worked in close consultation on this matter, examining all aspects of water supply and demand within the context of our policies in respect of northern development and regional growth centres. The Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation, at the request of the Department of Northern Development, reviewed the design and cost estimates of the engineering works and an interdisciplinary panel of senior State officers examined the likely environmental impact of stage 2. No adverse environmental consequences were foreshadowed. The Government believes that an adequate supply of water will be a major incentive for future growth in the Townsville area. Water consumption in the tropics is inevitably higher than in most southern cities because of harsher environmental conditions and the requirement of large quantities of water for the maintenance of municipal amenities, such as parks and gardens, recreation areas and street improvements. The provision of adequate water supplies is also an indispensable conditions for the location and development of new industrial enterprises on which the longterm growth of Townsville will depend. I commend this Bill to honourable senators.

Debate (on motion by Senator Carrick) adjourned.

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