The Navigation of the Murrumbidgee

3 March 1866 Wagga Wagga Express and Murrumbidgee District Advertiser

We extract the following remarks from Mr. Macleay's speech in the Legislative Assembly, in reference to his motion for placing upon the Estimates, a sum of £3000, for removing obstructions to the navigation of the Murrumbidgee, between Gundagai and Hay:-

In the Murrumbidgee, district there were no Government roads, and below Wagga Wagga not a farthing had ever been expended.

A large expenditure was, no doubt not necessary, for in summer the ground was hard, and in winter the country was impassable.

It was seldom that he troubled the House with matters of this kind, but, in this case, knowing the necessity for the expenditure, and finding that the Government had no intention of placing any sum upon the Estimates for this purpose, he had conceived it his duty to place the motion upon the paper.

It was important that the Murray, Murrumbidgee and Darling, should be rendered navigable.

This had, in a great measure, been effected in the Murray, but not in the Murrumbidgee.

And this was due, not to any difference in the nature of the latter river, for as far as he knew there was an equal depth of water in both rivers, but to the fact, that Victoria had expended large sums in clearing the Murray.

Very little had been done to improve the Murrumbidgee.

Sums of money had been repeatedly voted but they had never been expended, there being a great difficulty in getting any one to look after the expenditure.

All that had been expended, had been with the view of enabling the steamers of South Australia, and Victoria, to enter the New South Wales territory.

He now sought to give to the agricultural districts near the head of the Murrumbidgee navigation, the same facilities for supplying the pastoral districts, down the river, with agricultural produce, as had been extended to the producers of the other colonies.

He believed the Tumut was the best wheat growing district in New South Wales, and that Gandagai was but little in inferior to it.

The people of these districts were anxious to find a market for their produce in Riverina, where it was well-known that wheat would not grow.

It was only fair our own agriculturists should have as much assistance in reaching this market as those of South Australia.

A gentleman near Gundagai, who had lately built a steamer, would be perfectly willing to superintend the expenditure of any money that might be voted.

He would not only point out to the men employed the work to be done, but he would see that they did it.

Mr. Byrnes objected to the motion, on the ground that the Government intended to place a sum on the Estimates for improving the Murray, Murrumbidgee, and Darling rivers.

Mr. Macleay said that having heard the intention of the Government he was willing to withdraw the motion, but Mr. Forster objected, and on putting it to the vote, it was negatived by 13 to 10.