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Tuesday, 10 December 1974
Page: 3328

Senator McLAREN (South Australia) - I am at a bit of a disadvantage in this debate because I am under some restraint from my Whip. He has threatened that if I speak for too long I will be in serious trouble. It is getting near the festive season and everybody wants to get through the business of this House. But I cannot remain seated in view of some of the remarks of Senator Steele Hall. It is not my intention to revive the Chowilla debate this evening because the Chowilla Dam has been debated on many occasions in this Parliament, but I do want to put the record straight in respect of Chowilla because Senator Hall has claimed tonight that the South Australian Labor Government sold out South Australia in respect of water supplies. I want to refresh Senator Steele Hall 's memory of this little pamphlet that he published at a cost to the South Australian taxpayers of £6,000. He had it printed when he was pushing the issue of Chowilla and he set out 14 facts about the Chowilla project. Throughout the pamphlet he stresses to the public of South Australia all the good features of Chowilla. I am not going to debate them tonight because Senator Steele Hall knows full well what is in the pamphlet. He also knows full well that he issued instructions to members of his Department to have all these pamphlets destroyed. Unfortunately, before he could have them all destroyed some of them got out and came into the possession of many people in the Riverland district. When Senator Steele Hall went to the people of South Australia at the 1970 elections he found that they rejected him and his promises because they had read that pamphlet. He sold out the people of South Australia to Mr Bolte, the then Premier of Victoria, because Mr Bolte wanted to build a hydro-electric scheme at Dartmouth. Senator Hall, as the then Premier of South Australia, did not tell the South Australian people that embodied in the negotiations he had with Mr Bolte was a hydro-electric scheme at Dartmouth from which the people of South Australia were not going to benefit but only the people of Victoria.

When I came into this Parliament it took me a long time, through questions in the Senate and questioning at Senate Estimates Committees to get a copy of the feasibility study which was carried out on the construction of a hydro-electric scheme at Dartmouth, but eventually it was given to me. First of all I think it was Mr Swartz, the then Minister for National Development, who denied that the document ever existed, but I eventually got it and it was a very revealing document. But Senator Steele Hall, as the Premier of South Australia, never told the electors that the whole crux of the study was the establishment of a hydro-electric scheme at Dartmouth. I am not going to develop that tonight. There might be an opportunity to develop it at some later time because I will be here for a little while longer, as will Senator Steele Hall. If Senator Steele Hall wants to go on the hustings at election time and tell the people of South Australia what a wonderful deal he negotiated I will be quite happy to take up arms with him and tell the people the real truth.

What I am happy about in this legislation is that it envisages that we are going to do something under the auspices of the federal Labor Government to ensure proper water quality in the River Murray. Living as I do at Murray Bridge, which is at the tail end of the River Murray, I, with other people, have to put up with all the residue that comes down the Murray from its source to the point where I have got to use the water, along with many thousands of other people. When it gets down to us at Murray Bridge it is not a very pure water supply. I am reminded of what Mr Freudenstein, the New South Wales Minister for Conservation, said at the opening ceremony for the Dartmouth Dam, which I attended. What did he say in the course of his remarks? Senator Jessop was there and he heard him. He said that one of the good things about the Dartmouth Dam was that it would wash all the salt down into South Australia. He is on record as saying that. Yet Senator Hall tells us what a great thing the Dartmouth Dam is. I will not say any more tonight because we wish to get the business through. I will take the matter up at some later date. I fully support the measure that is before the Senate tonight.

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