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Tuesday, 1 October 1974
Page: 1511

Senator CARRICK (New South Wales) - The Senate is debating a Bill to provide $2. 56m by way of a non-repayable grant for the second stage of a dam on the Ross River, some 30 kilometres from Townsville. The first stage of this dam was agreed upon by the former LiberalCountry Party Government. Indeed, the intention was for stage 2 to proceed immediately following the completion of stage 1. The aim of stage 2 is to raise the height of the spillway by some 6.5 metres and of the embankment by some 4 metres. There will be a need to relocate some 16 kilometres of the Flinders Highway and some part of the great northern railway. When completed this dam will provide a total storage of 417,000 megalitres or 338,000 acre feet.

Townsville, a strong and growing area in our north, has a population today of 80,000. It has been estimated that the population will increase to 100,000 by 1980, with a growth rate of 8 per cent. It has an enormous domestic industrial capacity and the need for adequate water supply is, of course, very real. Stage 2 of the Ross River Dam will provide for flood mitigation to a point that, when completed, very valuable land which is now flooded plains can be recovered from the floods and, no doubt, used for housing or other development. The area, which is so close to Townsville, will of course provide an enormously attractive recreational reserve. It is hoped that a flora and fauna reserve will be associated with the Ross River Dam.

When the 1972 general election campaign was being fought- nowhere was it fought more bitterly than Townsville- the Labor candidate and the then Labor Leader, Mr Whitlam, made it clear that if Labor were elected to office it would immediately provide funds for the construction of stage 2 of the Ross River dam. Indeed, in the 1972 policy speech of the Labor Party it was stated:

The Ross River and Burdekin projects arc as vital to Townsville as to Townsville 's hinterland. They will be prime responsibilities of the Conservation and Construction Authority, which will be financed from the $47m which Victoria and New South Wales will pay each year for the next 50 years for the Snowy Mountains Scheme.

It is sad that so much time has passed since that election before the commencement of stage 2. As a result, because of this delay, the dismantling of much of the construction work and the loss of plant and operators has taken place. It will be necessary to reassemble workers, machinery and plant to get stage 2 going. Townsville, of course, has great prospects as a growth centre. Knowing the tendency of the Labor Government to ambiguity of speech, I was drawn- attracted as by a magnet- to that part of the Minister's second reading speech in which he said of Townsville:

Its growth over recent years owes much to Australian 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 Minister was claiming great credit for the Australian Government which, at present, is his Government. I know it is churlish to mention it but, of course, the Australian Government in all those circumstances was a Liberal-Country Party Government. Even now, it is nice to get acknowledgement from the Government of what we did. The speech, of course, reads as though there is vitrue in what the Labor Government has done. Let me be churlish and say that if there is any claim that the Labor Government might make towards Townsville, it is that it has very successfully reduced the defence installations of Townsville by withdrawing battalions of troops. It has taken key defence personnel from Townsville. I pause and interpolate: Does Senator McAuliffe, who is trying to interject, deny this? Does Senator Milliner, who is trying to interject, deny this? It is interesting to hear how noisy they can be when they are sitting either in or out of their correct places in the chamber. The simple fact of the matter is that if the Minister had been truthful in his second reading speech he would have had to admit that the only work that has been done in Townsville since the advent of this Labor Government has been the downgrading of Townsville, not its upgrading. The fact is that this delay has occurred and it has been a setback. The Opposition supports the Bill. It supports the fact that the money is to be made available by way of a non-repayable grant- a principle agreed upon by the former Liberal Government and one which, we hope, will be contagious within the Labor Party. The Opposition urges the speedy construction of the dam.

I now refer to the Julius Dam. Of course, this dam is to be constructed on the Leichhardt River in the Selwyn Ranges, some 65 kilometres east of Mount Isa. It is to be constructed in one of Australia 's lowest rainfall areas and in an area of very high evaporation. It is a dam upon which the development of Mount Isa and its environs will very largely depend. There is no need to say to the Senate how important the growth of Mount Isa is and how important the potential of silver, lead and copper ores is in that area and to Australia. Of course, because of the declining sources of rock phosphate in the world and of the growing need for superphosphate by our farmers, one should urge upon the Government the speeding up of the development of the Lady Annie rock phosphate deposits. One also looks towards the development of copper mining at Kajabbi and elsewhere.

Against that background we have here a Bill which is designed to lend $2m over a period for the part-financing of this dam. It is a loan and not a grant. After much squabbling the terms relating to the length of repayment of the loan have been lengthened. Nevertheless, they are basically unsatisfactory. The dam itself is to be financed from 3 sources- by Mount Isa Mines Limited, by the Mount Isa City Council and by the Queensland Government. Of course, a fourth source is to be the Commonwealth Government which is to lend $2m. The total cost of the dam is estimated to be $10m with a further cost of $ 15.2m for pumps and pipelines. The Queensland Government's share is about $7.3m.

When completed the dam will have a capacity of 123,500 megalitres.

I commend the Bill. I commend the construction of the dam. In giving this support I pay a tribute to the fact that the dam was named after Julius Kruttschnitt who was a well known and well loved identity in Mount Isa. He was the well known 'JK' of Mount Isa. I think that he died last week. I commend the whole development of this area because by the development of our mines, by the development of our dry land areas in terms of their minerals, the capacity of this Government and of this Parliament to share the wealth of Australia with its people by way of the provision of pensions, schools, and hospitals can continue and expand. Therefore, I commend the Bill.

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