26th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon.W. J. Aston) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr FOX presented from certain residents of the State of Victoria a petition showing that kangaroos generally throughout the Commonwealth are in grave danger of extinction. Indeed some species are already extinct. This sad state of affairs is due to the uncontrolled shooting of kangaroos mainly for commercial purposes. Kangaroos are a native of this country and are entitled to a share of the land, also they are unique in that they are found in no other part of the world and consequently must be preserved for future generations before it is too late.
The petitioners humbly pray that the Government will legislate to stop the indiscriminate shooting of kangaroos and ban the export of kangaroo skins, mounted heads, and meat.
Also, it is suggested that tracts of Crown land be made available to responsible private people who are prepared to look after kangaroos. This could be done under the supervision of a government authority such as the Victorian Fisheries and Wildlife Department and would be similar to public service rendered by Justices of the Peace.
Mr ARTHUR presented from certain electors of the Commonwealth a petition showing that physiotherapy is not among the items included for benefits under the health insurance scheme.
The petitioners humbly pray that an adequate refund for physiotherapy treatment ordered by a registered medical practitioner may be included within the Commonwealth benefits scheme in like manner to other medical benefits.
Petition received and read.
Mr JESS presented from certain resi dents of the State of Victoria a petition showing that the red kangaroo, largest marsupial in existence and international trade mark, through shooting for commercial interests, is being reduced to a numerical level where its survival is in jeopardy; all States have insufficient administrators to enforce any existing laws within their boundaries, and the vastness of Australia makes it impossible to apprehend and prosecute persons breaking these laws.
The petitioners humbly pray that the export of kangaroo products be banned immediately - the value of these commodities does not warrant the risk of wiping out our national emblem.
Until such time as a Commonwealth body is set up with powers to administrate throughout the Commonwealth, short-term measures must be taken to ensure the survival of the kangaroo.
Mr BOSMAN presented from certain citizens of the Commonwealth a petition showing that because of increased costs of educating children attending Catholic schools relief is urgently required.
The petitioners pray that, as a first step in 1969 towards relieving the immediate difficulties of Catholic schools in Australia, the Commonwealth Government make grants available equivalent to a capitation grant of $50 per primary and secondary pupil, per annum, for running costs, in whatever form the Government finds it is able to make the grant and that, subsequently, the combined Commonwealth and State subsidies for running costs should be progressively raised to at least half the cost of educating a primary and secondary child in the various State systems.
Mr Speaker, I wish to inform the House that the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Freeth) left Australia on Sunday, 18 th May, for Bangkok. He will attend the 14th meeting of the South East Asia Treaty Organisation Council on the 20th and 21st May and the meeting of the Vietnam Force Contributors on the 22nd and 23rd May. Mr Freeth expects to return to Australia on Sunday, 25th May. During his absence, the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) will act as Minister for External Affairs.
– Is the Minister for Health aware of the activity within the Australian Medical Association and the Hospital Benefits Association motivated by the disclosures in the report of the Nimmo committee? Is he aware that alterations are to be made to the scale of benefits? In view of the fact that action was taken to prevent increases in medical benefits while the Nimmo investigation was in progress, will the Minister now take action to see that the proposed increases in medical benefits are raised to a level that will meet the extortionate medical and hospital fees now prevailing?
-So far as 1 am aware action was not taken, as a result of the deliberations of the Nimmo committee, to stop proposals by the funds to increase benefits. Increases were held up at one stage for a meeting of the Commonwealth Health Insurance Council, because I wanted the views of that Council on whether increased funds becoming available should go to general practitioner consultations or to other items on the benefits scale. However, that took place months ago and new benefits related to fee increases were approved, particularly for Victoria. As to the rest of the honourable gentleman’s question, any increases or any changes in the medical benefit scales will have to await the Government’s consideration, the taking of decisions on the recommendations of the Nimmo committee and discussions with the various groups involved in the community.
– Will the Prime Minister indicate his attitude to the holding, at this time, of a debate on the current industrial situation?
– I would certainly welcome a debate on the current industrial situation and I would be prepared to facilitate such a debate, but the question that really arises-
- Mr Speaker, I submit thai the question is out of order since it anticipates debate on a matter which is on the daily programme sheet which has been circulated to honourable members.
-Order! The subject matter of the question is not before the House at the present time and therefore I suggest that the-
– But every honourable member knows that it will be.
-It is not before the House.
– Mr Speaker, I rise to a point of order. The question relates to a matter which is not within the Prime Minister’s ministerial responsibility but within your own responsibility. Therefore it should be ruled out of order.
-Order! The honourable member is wrong on both counts.
– I must admit to some mild surprise that there should be objections to an attitude on a matter of this importance being stated in this House. As I was saying, Mr Speaker, I would certainly welcome a debate on the industrial situation and would be prepared to facilitate such a debate taking place. The question, however, is not whether such a debate should take place and be of value but when it should take place. The Government, in relation to the present industrial situation, has been and is having discussions with officers of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. The ACTU Executive is to meet tomorrow and following that there will be further discussions between the Government and officers of the ACTU. Furthermore, I understand that a compulsory conference is being called for this afternoon by Mr Justice Gallagher and to this conference have been called union representatives, officers of the ACTU, officers of the Department of Labour and National Service and the Deputy Crown Solicitor.
The Government is still hopeful ot reaching a proper solution to the present industrial problems which have arisen in this country, but if one thing could prejudice the arrival at such a proper solution it could be speeches made in the heat of debate on this matter at this time. Therefore, in the interests of Australia generally, because the interests of Australia generally depend on a proper solution to this present industrial problem being arrived at as quickly as possible, I think it would be unwise for such a debate on the present industrial problems to take place at this time. In these circumstances, while attempts to negotiate a settlement are continuing, we believe, as I say, that there should not be such a debate at present.
-I direct my question to the Treasurer. In the present crisis concerning sterling, is one of the conditions of the International Monetary Fund extending another $ 1,000m standby loan to Britain the Fund’s demand that the United Kingdom should re-examine its policy of allowing the outflow of portfolio investment from the United Kingdom to Australia and South Africa? As last year over 40% of overseas capital inflow to Australia was portfolio investment, does the Treasurer feel that the requirement of the International Monetary Fund will have any impact on the inflow of capital to Australia?
– I doubt very much whether the basis on which the honourable gentleman asked his question is correct. It was stated that the International Monetary Fund was attempting to impose conditions upon the standby credit given by the Fund to the United Kingdom Government. Just as promptly it was denied by officials on behalf of the United Kingdom Government that this was being attempted. In any event, trying to make a forecast of what is likely to happen to policy decisions by the British Government is well beyond me and I think beyond any other member of this House.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. By way of preface 1 point out that yesterday I was present at a lunchtime meeting under the auspices of the Constitutional Association of Australia, at which Mt Spiegelman, President of the Sydney University Students Representative Council, said that a letter had been sent to the Prime Minister by the National Union of Australian University Students, as I understand it regarding a blanket ban on Commonwealth public servants taking part in political activities. But I see from this morning’s ‘Canberra Times’ that Mr
Spiegelman is reported as referring to a particular case in which a public servant, I think in the Attorney-General’s Department, did take some part in a political activity and, I think, was disciplined for it. In either event, I ask the Prime Minister whether he is aware of such a letter having been sent to him and whether as alleged or implied he deliberately ignored it.
– There is no record in my Department, in spite of my Department having sought to go through the records, of the receipt of any letter of the kind referred to by the honourable member for Bradfield. I do not say the letter was not sent. I just say there is no record in the Department of the receipt of any such letter. There is a record of receipt by the Attorney-General of a letter from the NUAUS concerning a Mr Sime, whose case has been the subject of debate in this House before, and I understand that the NUAUS has also written to the Chairman of the Public Service Board. If I were to receive a letter, I would reply to it.
– Has the Minister for the Navy seen recent Press reports of discontent over pay and conditions in the Royal Australian Navy? Has this discontent reached crisis proportions, as claimed by one newspaper? Have . desertion rates among sailors reached an all time high, and are officers leaving the Navy faster than the rate of replacement? What has the Minister done to remedy complaints made by officers and ratings in the Service?
– I did see, in particular, an article in the ‘Sunday Telegraph’ which I think is the one to which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has referred. In my opinion it was gravely alarmist. It should not have been. The word crisis’ in relation to Navy pay was used. I have admitted on many occasions that we have a problem as far as Navy pay is concerned. In my opinion problems should be regarded as opportunities in work clothes.
We have taken action along many lines, particularly in regard to group pay. Since group pay was introduced in October last year ten categories of sailors involving 3,600 personnel have had their categories re-aligned and upgraded. There are twelve categories involving 3,000 sailors that are now awaiting reassessment and possible realignment. Award changes in the civil field have led to the rise in pay for twelve categories, involving 2,000 men. A total of 8,600 sailors out of 14,000 have been or may be advantaged since the implementation of the group pay. I am certain that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition will recognise that the philosophy behind group pay is to give flexibility.
Regarding several of the other matters raised, the table of figures in the ‘Sunday Telegraph’ was wrong in every respect. I do not think one figure in the table was correct. I do not want to pretend that there is not a problem, particularly in the SD field - the Special Duty Officer field. Some 20% of our officers fall into this category; they come up through the ranks. The fact that the pay of sailors has increased so dramatically in many cases has meant that this has pierced the level of pay of the SD officers. This is a matter that is receiving the active consideration of the Government.
– 1 direct my question to the Prime Minister. Did the South Australian Premier indicate in his Budget speech that, if the State was threatened with a Budget deficit in 1968-69, he would renew the State’s application to the Commonwealth for special financial assistance? Has any such application been received by the Commonwealth Government and, if so, what action does the Government propose to take to meet it?
– South Australia has applied for special Commonwealth assistance to help it to meet the deterioration in its financial position. At the Premiers Conference, it will be recalled, it was decided to provide special revenue assistance totalling SI 2m for the States of Australia generally, and South Australia’s share of this was $1.35m. It has now been decided, because of a further request by the Premier of South Australia which has been very carefully studied by the Treasury, to provide an additional S2m to South Australia to enable it to meet its budgetary difficulties.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question concerning the third oldest of the questions which I have on the notice paper for him. He will notice that 6 months ago today I asked him when the Commonwealth last approached the States before, and first approached them during, the then current International Year for Human Rights concerning the State legislation which is deemed necessary to enable Australia to ratify five conventions in this field; 1 made in 195®, 1 in 1953 and 3 in 1966. I ask: Does the right honourable gentleman recollect that the Commonwealth has often pleaded that it cannot ratify some of these conventions because State laws do not conform with them? Does he acknowledge that as a result of the deliberations of the Teheran Conference on Human Rights a year ago, at which Australia was represented, the Commonwealth has undertaken to review the situation? If so, I ask the right honourable gentleman: Why is he taking so long to give the dates sought in a question which cannot be regarded as frivolous and should not be regarded as controversial?
– I do not carry in my mind the details of the dates asked for in a question on notice by the Leader of the Opposition. I will seek to find them out for him as quickly as I can.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Education and Science. Is he correctly reported in recent weeks, and again this morning; as saying that he proposes to make a statement on the subject of education at a meeting in Sydney on 1st June for the specific purpose of contributing to the political flavour of the Bendigo by-election?
– 1 have seen comments in some newspapers over the last 2 or 3 weeks which seem to tie these events together; that is, the meeting being held in Sydney and the Bendigo by-election. There was a report on the early news service of the Australian Broadcasting Commission this morning which wrongly reported a speech I made last night in the honourable member’s own electorate of St George. I have a tape recording of the speech as it was in fact given. There have been comments saying that a major policy statement on State aid would be made early in June, These statements are not correct. I said last night that this would not occur, and I think it was recognised and accepted by those people who were at the meeting in St George that such matters are ones that need to be discussed and examined in the Budget context because they have significant budgetary implications as the Prime Minister has indicated in correspondence with the Premier of New South Wales. But, on the other hand, I found last night that it seemed to be accepted by the parents and friends representing a very wide area of Sydney that leaders of the Opposition make promises on any day of the year.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. In view of the vast industrial upheaval caused by the lack of public relations between the Department of Labour and National Service and the trade union movement, would the Prime Minister reshuffle his Cabinet and give this responsible ministerial portfolio to a Minister with more tolerance and understanding than the present Minister so that stability can be restored to industry in Australia?
– I think it would be rather difficult, searching this House on both sides, to find a man of more tolerance and understanding than the present Minister for Labour and National Service, and, what is more, I utterly reject the suggestion that there are no public relations between the Department of Labour and National Service, and its Minister, and the trade union movement. Indeed, the discussions which have been just recently carried on and are being carried on, and which we do not wish to see disrupted, are evidence that there is touch between this Minister and his Department and the trade union movement, and I have not heard from leaders of the trade union movement such attacks on the tolerance of the Minister as are suggested in the question.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Some time ago the Minister said he was going to review the policy applying to international air charter flights. Can he now say whether this review has taken place, and if so, what decisions have been made?
– It is a fact that some time ago I did indicate that I would undertake a review of the international air charter policy, and that review has been going on for some time. In October 1967 I announced the new policy in the House, and last indicated some months ago that this review would be undertaken after the end of the first effective year of its operation, because it was some months after the introduction of the policy before we could effectively judge how the procedures were going and how they were being accepted. I took it that it would be up to about the end of February 1969 before we could classify one particular year of active operation of the policy. It is very interesting to note that the policy has been most successful. In fact, during this particular period about seventy flights have been either undertaken or arranged and seven international operators have taken part in these operations. Because of the implications and the representations that have been made to my colleague, the Minister for Immigration, and other people in the House and because of the necessity to discuss these matters at length with the International Air Transport Association, with other international operators and with Qantas, it has taken some time to reach conclusions. However, I anticipate that within the next few weeks this review will be concluded. If it is at all possible I will complete the review before the House rises and make an announcement to it regarding any policy changes that are contemplated. If it is not possible to do so, I will make an announcement as soon as I can after that date.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is he aware that penalties totalling about $282,000 and employers’ costs of almost the same amount have been imposed on trade unions between 1956 and 1968 under the penal clauses of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act and in the same period employers have paid only about $3,000 for award breaches? If so, is it not a fact that the token penalties imposed on employers are not due to their good industrial conduct but because the penal provisions of the Act are loaded against trade unionists, resulting in almost 1 million workers being in revolt against this law in Australia today? In view of the great injustices to trade unionists and the need for industrial peace, will the Minister state on what grounds, if any. he refuses to give expression to the spirit of the Act and repeal these iniquitous penal clauses?
– The figures given by the honourable member for Grayndler are roughly correct. He referred to the amount of fines imposed on employers. He might also have referred to other eloquent figures and they are that, since 1 954 or thereabouts, very largely because of the background of the sanctions provisions, about $2m - again a round figure - has been collected from employers as payment due for wages under a number of awards that have been made.
– You are a clown.
-Order! The honourable member for Stirling will withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw my reference to the Minister for Labour and National Service as being a clown.
-Order! The honourable member will withdraw the remark and apologise.
– I withdraw and apologise.
– If any honourable member thinks that these payments could have been collected without there being, in the background, powerful sanctions, he is a very poor student of humanity. The fact is that these sanction provisions operate in two directions. If we take the full picture into account, it does give a very different balance sheet, as a large number of more responsible trade unionists fully recognise. This is not to say that they would not seek some changes or amendments, but sanctions of some kind are an inherent part of our conciliation and arbitration system. Without the sanctions it would have to be wholly recast. This is not to reject the notion that from time to time adjustments of various kinds will be made, as historically they have been made. But without this linchpin the whole system would collapse. This is well recognised by many people, except those who wish to resort to direct action without inhibitions and upset the affairs of the whole country.
– My question is directed to the Attorney-General. What Government amended the Conciliation and Arbitration Act so as to give the Commonwealth Industrial Court the power to impose fines and punish for contempt of court and make it a superior court of record? Was this done to protect the community against Communist officials using strike action to smash the economy of Australia?
– The powers have been introduced at different times. From 1904 there was provision for fines of up to £1,000, as it was in those days, and also for remedy by way of mandamus and injunction. These provisions were applied from time to time until 1930 when some substantial amendments were introduced by the Scullin Government. Even then there was a series of provisions for fines and injunctions. As a result of a decision of the High Court of Australia in about 1936 it was clear that penalities imposed for a breach of terms put into an award were valid. In 1947 the modified provisions were found by Dr Evatt not to be sufficiently strong. It was then necessary, according to him, in order to sustain the system to strengthen the sanctions, which he did by making provision that the Court should he a superior court of record. The idea was that the Court should be able to commit to goal for contempt of court. That provision, as the honourable member suggests, was certainly introduced by Dr Evatt.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral a question supplementary to the one asked by the honourable member for Chisholm. Is it not a fact that section 109, the labour Injunction section, of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act and the related contempt provision, section 111, were introduced in 1956 by the late Mr Holt when he was the Minister for Labour and National Service, and did they not reproduce the words of sections differently numbered but introduced for the first time by Mr Holt in 1951 when he was administering the same portfolio?
– It is true that the intentions which Dr Evatt expressed had to some degree miscarried and that as a result of a decision of the High Court of Australia it was found that the power to commit for contempt of court was in some respects defective. An attempt was made to remedy this in 1951, and finally in 1956 sections 109 and 111 took broadly their present form.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. In view of the fact that shipments of meat to the United States of America are about 30,000 tons short over the first 6 months of our quota period, why has the Australian Meat Board given advice to eleven small abattoirs in Victoria to the effect that they cannot continue the shipment of meat to the US because they have not sold stipulated quantities to diversified markets, particularly as meat suitable for the lower price markets is not available in Victoria?
– Honourable members will recall that last year because of an oversupply of meat to the US market the Australian Government was compelled to place an embargo on further shipments of meat to that country. This action caused some disruption to the local industry, but to avoid such a situation occurring again the Australian Meat Board came forward with a proposal whereby exporters could win an entitlement to the US market if they were able to diversify a percentage of their production to other markets. The Board said that this matter would be reviewed during the year in the light of the performance achieved. The Board has made a number of statements since, saying that the whole matter would be reviewed in May.
For the first 5 months of the year the understanding was that for every 25% of beef and veal exported to other markets it would give an entitlement of 75% to the United States market, that referred to beef and veal. But if producers exported two-thirds of their mutton production to other markets they were entitled to export one-third to the United States market. The Meat Board has now altered its arrangement and producers need export only 20% of their beef and veal to other markets to enable them to export 80% to the United States. The figures with respect to mutton are now 60% to other markets and 40% to the United States. But if these people did not abide by the terms and conditions that were originally accepted by the meat industry the whole scheme would break down.
The scheme has been an outstanding success. It has encouraged people to go out and win other markets, and yet it has ensured that we will be able to supply the American market because the percentage of exports to markets can be varied as the performance is looked at throughout the course of the year. Exporters who have not been able to win a credit for diversification to the United States market are being penalised, and the only way they can correct that situation is to get out and try to sell to other markets, as the great majority of exporters undertook to do and succeeded in doing, during the first 5 months of this year.
– I wish to ask a question of the Minister for Primary Industry. Has the Minister yet placed before Cabinet the latest report of the Devaluation Reporting Committee with respect to devaluation compensation to the processors of solid pack apples in Tasmania and on the mainland and also to fruit growers in respect of the past season’s crop which is now arriving in the United Kingdom? The honourable member for Franklin is also interested in these questions.
– The honourable member asked two questions. First of all, he asked about devaluation compensation in relation to solid pack apples. This question has been examined by the Devaluation Reporting Committee. I have just received the report of the Committee and it has been submitted to Cabinet for examination. 1 hope that a decision will be made forthwith. The second question by the honourable member related to devaluation compensation for fresh apples exported to the United Kingdom market. This question will be examined as sales are made. It is only when demonstrable losses can be shown that the Devaluation Reporting Committee actually can assess the amount of compensation that needs to be paid.
– Will the Treasurer in Budget discussions give consideration to allowing donations to the Murray Valley Development League as taxation deductions?
– On “ one “occasion the honourable gentleman asked me to interview the Murray Valley authorities with him, and they presented a case that I thought was worthy of submission to the Government last year for consideration in its Budget discussions. I will make certain that the file is looked at again and that the Cabinet will again have an opportunity of studying it. If the honourable member wishes me to see the people involved I will be only too happy to join him in seeing them.
– I ask the Prime Minister: Is it to be assumed from his answer to the question by the honourable member for Henty regarding the industrial unrest at. present rife throughout Australia that he does not intend to allow any debate on the matter as a matter of urgency? If so, does he intend to place the same embargo on television and radio commentators and newspaper editors and journalists to prevent in any forum open discussion of the dispute? Is this a further example of bis reluctance to give Parliament information on matters of great public importance and of his desire to introduce one man one rule, as suggested by the honourable member for Warringah?
– It is to be assumed that it would not be in Australia’s interest to exacerbate at this stage a situation which we hope will lend itself to a solution. Surely it must be clear to all that if the present industrial problems can be brought to a satisfactory and proper conclusion, that would be of overriding importance to Australia and to Australia’s citizens. It is also to be assumed that anything which could upset the delicate state of negotiations at this stage would not be in the interests either of Australia or of the workers, for whom I have no doubt the honourable member would pretend to speak. As to the other part of the question, I have already made it clear in what I said before that I would welcome and provide facilities for such a debate; that the question was not whether such a debate should take place but when it should take place. I believe that most people of common sense and most people who desire a settlement would not wish to run the risk of inflaming the situation just at this moment.
– I direct to the Prime Minister a question relating to the Commonwealth Constitution. Will the right honourable gentleman agree that in recent years political leaders in all State Parliaments and in the Commonwealth Parliament have complained about creaks and groans in the Australian Constitution, placing particular emphasis on the difficulties presented by the Commonwealth’s assumption of the dominant role in the financial sphere? Mindful of the need to develop and maintain an appropriate sense of nationalism within Australia and the need to accommodate State interests in a rapidly changing world, will the right honourable gentleman say whether the Government has considered convening a constitutional convention representative of political leaders in all State Parliaments and the Commonwealth Parliament?
– 1 think it would be true to say that there has been from time to time comment on the, let me put it this way, difficulties of running a federal system of government. I would not believe it was universally accepted that these difficulties flowed only from the initiatives taken by the Commonwealth to assist in such fields as education or in national conservation or in matters of that kind. The Government has not considered the calling of a national convention of the kind suggested by the honourable member, but I am sure that the general question will be a subject for discussion at least amongst one of the parties making up this House.
– 1 ask the Prime Minister a question. Has the Australian High Commissioner in Kuala Lumpur been called in by Tun Abdul Razak for special defence aid to handle the racial crisis in western Malaysia? Has the Australian Government confirmed that Australia will not interfere in such matters of internal law and order?
– I have no information whatsoever to suggest that the Australian High Commissioner in Kuala Lumpur has been called in by Tun Abdul Razak or has been asked for any defence assistance in handling the situation in Kuala Lumpur at the moment. If that did happen then no information concerning it has reached me. What I do know is that the statement that I made in this House last week, repeated from my statement of 25th February, that Australian troops were not in that area to keep civil law and order, that being the responsibility of the government in the area, was sent to Kuala Lumpur and to our Australian High Commissioner, and I have no doubt he has taken that statement as the one on which he should act.
– In view of the public importance of a debate on the activities of certain university student organisations and the delays that have already occurred in bringing these matters to the notice of the House, will the Leader of the House indicate whether the Government is prepared to provide time for the purpose of such a debate?
– Yes, Mr Speaker, the Government will provide time, but not today.
– I address my question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Will he agree that the application of sanctions against a citizen who refuses to work, on lines laid down by a State authority, is in fact a demonstration of authoritarianism and very similar to the fundamental laws of Fascism as expounded by the late Benito Mussolini? Does it not conflict with the principles of liberal democracy as set out in that monumental exercise in hypocrisy, the Liberal Party Policy and Platform?
– The honourable member is, of course, not very notable for precise speech. I did not understand the real question that he asked. It was of such a general character that no-one could follow it precisely. But I am sure from his general disposition that whatever proposition the honourable member advanced in this sphere I should not agree.
– by leave - 1 wish to inform the House of the efforts that have been made to institute a scheme for the reconstruction of marginal or lowincome dairy farms in Australia, and of the present state of negotiations between the Commonwealth Government and the State governments. At the outset, I am pleased to inform the House that the Government of Western Australia has advised the Commonwealth Government that it is prepared to accept the Commonwealth’s offer in relation to the scheme, and that it will co-operate in the scheme’s implementation. No other State has yet signified its acceptance. Honourable members will recall that, in his speech at the opening of the current Parliament, His Excellency the then Governor-General announced that the Government intended to introduce a scheme for reconstruction in the dairy industry. He said that up to $25m would be provided over a 4-year period to enable low-income farmers to leave the industry if they so desired. This would then allow their farms to be amalgamated with other nearby properties with, wherever possible, changes in the pattern of production to alternate forms of land use. This diversification of production away from butter fat is, of course, an important objective of the scheme. The scheme as proposed received widespread expressions of support. When it was announced in the House by my predecessor, the right honourable member for Fisher,
Mr Adermann, it was welcomed by members of all parties. Dairy industry leaders have expressed their support for the principles of the scheme, although there has been an opinion expressed in some quarters that the scheme should go further than it will under the present proposals. At meetings of the Australian Agricultural Council, State Ministers for Agriculture have expressed their support for the scheme, and their willingness to co-operate in its implementation.
In a letter to the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) on 24th February last, to which I shall refer again, the Premier of New South Wales, Mr Askin, reaffirmed that his Government and officers were prepared to assist as far as was practicable in the implementation of any Commonwealth scheme. In a letter to the Prime Minister on 16th April last, the Premier of Victoria, Sir Henry Bolte, said his Government agreed with what the Commonwealth was setting out to do, and was prepared to co-operate with the Commonwealth in achieving its policy. Both Premiers expressed their support subject to certain qualifications regarding the operation of the scheme which I will mention later.
At various meetings of dairy farmers I have found that, although there frequently has been some initial misunderstanding about the scheme, there is strong support for it. Correspondence I have received indicates that many farmers are anxious to make use of the scheme. Indeed, several other rural industries have suggested that a similar scheme could well work to the advantage of their own industries. Having announced such a scheme for the dairy industry, the Commonwealth sought the States’ co-operation. As systems of land tenure and the conditions within the dairy industry vary from State to State, the discussions were held separately between officers of the Commonwealth and the individual States. In those initial talks, the basis for the provision of finance was that the Commonwealth would provide a quarter of the funds in the form of grants and threequarters in the form of loans. In discussions, the States claimed that this basis was not satisfactory to them as it could, they said, involve them in expenditure of their own funds.
After consideration of all the matters arising in the discussions, the Prime Minister wrote to each Premier on the 30th September 1968 seeking co-operation in implementing a marginal dairy farm reconstruction scheme. In his letter, the Prime Minister indicated the Commonwealth’s preparedness to make available over a period of 4 years a sum of up to $25m for use by the States in the implementation of the scheme. Of the money used by a State, 50% would be a non-repayable grant. The remaining 50% would be a loan repayable with interest at the current long term bond rate at the time of drawing. The loan moneys would be repayable by the State over a period chosen by the State, but with a maximum of 25 years. The period could, at the option of the State, include an initial term of up to 2 years during which repayments of principal could be postponed. While interest would run from the date of drawing, the interest accruing during any chosen period of postponement of principal repayments could be capitalised, if so desired by the State. Again at the option of the State, repayment of loan could be made on the credit foncier system, or on equal instalments of principal with interest on the outstanding balance. The funds made available to the State would be applied, first, for the purchase of farms bare - that is, without stock or plant; secondly, for the writing-off of any fixed improvements rendered redundant on resale; and thirdly, for such other purposes relevant to the scheme as the Commonwealth and State might agree upon.
The Prime Minister indicated that the operation of the scheme would be defined in an agreement between the Commonwealth and the State. Within the terms of this agreement, the State would act as a principal for the implementation of the scheme. This means the State would determine the price to be paid for farms being acquired, the extent of write-down for redundant fixed improvements, and the terms and conditions applying to purchasers of land under the scheme, the State accepting any losses which might occur in the last mentioned transactions. The State would meet its own costs of administration of the scheme. The agreement would include, in addition to the financial arrangements already mentioned, other related matters such as the objectives being sought in amalgamation and diversification; production standards for outgoing and incoming participants in the scheme; safeguards against subsequent fragmentation of enlarged properties; restrictions on sale of enlarged properties during a specified period after amalgamation in order to minimise speculation and last, but by no means least, a system of reporting on the progress of the scheme, including provision for consultations between Commonwealth and State officers as required. I have outlined the Commonwealth’s offer in order that the House can judge for itself the efforts that have been made not only to provide a scheme that will enable an attack to be made upon the low-income problem in the dairy industry, but also to provide arrangements that will give each co-operating State maximum flexibility in carrying out the scheme, using Commonwealth money.
There is another matter that should be mentioned. Some States are already undertaking schemes of their own to try to assist dairy farmers. The Commonwealth would expect these States to continue this practice and not merely use Commonwealth money to replace their own expenditures. On 24th February 1969 the Premier of New South Wales wrote to the Prime Minister on behalf of all of the States. The Premier made four points which be referred to as points of principle, and included a suggestion about the mechanics of handling the money. Let me make it clear that the States did not reject the Commonwealth scheme. They have, all along, indicated that they recognise their responsibilities, just as the Commonwealth Government recognises its responsibility, to try to create conditions for the betterment of dairy farmers. In his four points, Mr Askin asked the Commonwealth to provide the whole of the funds required. He proposed that the Commonwealth should meet all losses or costs incurred in the operation of the scheme. He wanted the Commonwealth to meet the full costs of administration. He also considered that the States should be allowed to exercise full powers of determination in matters of a technical and administrative nature.
Mr Askin suggested that one way to administer arrangements of the type he had in mind would be to establish, with Commonwealth funds, a dairy reconstruction fund in each State. All costs, including administrative costs, would be charged to the fund and all amounts received from sales of land or other sources would be credited to it. In effect, it would become a revolving fund. On this suggestion, I am informed that such a fund would be applicable where States acted entirely on behalf of, and under the. direction of, the Commonwealth. It would not be applicable where a State is co-operating under an agreement that involves a system of clear and specific repayments, as is proposed for this scheme. A revolving fund of this kind is also less appropriate . where moneys would be made available by way of a mixture of grant and loan, although that type of accounting difficulty possibly could be overcome. However, the accounting and administrative arrangements are not the crux of the issue. The real question is one of responsibility.
The Commonwealth view is that State instrumentalities should be the bodies who make on-the-ground decisions about the individual cases that will be submitted by dairy farmers wishing to sell their farms and others to take up the land which becomes available under the scheme. The States should then be prepared to stand behind any decisions that their instrumentalities make. In other words, the States should participate as active and responsible principals in the matter, and not as passive agents.
Mr Askin asked the Commonwealth to provide the whole of the funds required. This we have said we are prepared to do - on the grant-loan basis I have mentioned - for the moneys that will be used to finance the farmers who voluntarily leave the industry and the farmers whose properties would be built up. We are also prepared to find all of the money for the writing off of the redundant assets on marginal farms. He also asked that the States should exercise full powers of determination in matters of a technical and administrative nature. The Commonwealth does not wish to interfere in the decision making role of any State in respect of individual applications that come before whatever instrumentality that State nominates to handle the scheme. However, as the Commonwealth and the State are both concerned for the welfare of dairy farmers and for improvement of the dairy industry, I consider it reasonable for the Commonwealth to expect that the terms and conditions under which the scheme is to operate will be agreed with the Commonwealth before the scheme is implemented. I think it most reasonable also that the Commonwealth should expect to be provided with a regular flow of information about decisions made by each State so that the Government can be assured that the scheme is operating on agreed lines.
With ordinary care, losses arising under the scheme should be minimal. Over a period of years, it may not be possible for losses to be completely avoided, but my understanding is that lands administration authorities in the various States have a good record of keeping losses to a low level. In any event, if losses are incurred they should be far less than the amount of grant money available to a State after writeoffs are financed. In short, the most that could happen would be that any such losses would be covered by grant moneys. However, the important thing is that each State should be willing to stand behind the actions of the instrumentality that it appoints to handle dairy farm reconstruction. By accepting the write-off of redundant fixed improvements, the Commonwealth is bearing by far the largest foreseeable loss. Furthermore, if , as a result of some unforeseeable occurrence beyond the control of the State, such as a major drought, a State found itself in the position where it might incur an overall loss from its operations of the scheme, the Commonwealth would be prepared to consider the provision of additional assistance.
As far as administrative costs are concerned, it has long been the practice that the States and Commonwealth each bear their own administrative costs. In any case, each State will be in the position of obtaining interest on whatever part of the grant moneys is advanced to purchasers buying land and this interest should be sufficient to cover State administrative expenses for the scheme. In effect, Mr Askin suggested to the Commonwealth that the funds for the reconstruction of the low-income sector of the dairy industry should be passed to the States, and that they should be completely free to use this money according to their own discretion. The Commonwealth, for its part, has made what I consider to be a most generous offer to the States. It is, moreover, an offer in which the Commonwealth has been careful to avoid encroaching on the States’ decision making role.
It has been estimated that throughout Australia there are some 24,000 dairy farmers in the manufacturing sector receiving a net income of less than $2,000 a year. Many of these are operating farms on a scale of enterprise that, even with the greatest of effort on the part of the farmer, cannot provide an income adequate to maintain a standard of living acceptable in the Australian community. The problem is aggravated by the fact that these lowincome farms are mostly concentrated in certain regions of Australia, in particular south eastern Queensland, the north coast of New South Wales, and south west Western Australia. Nevertheless, lowincome farms exist in all States. In Victoria, for example, it is estimated that there are up to 7,500 butterfat producing farms which have a net farm income less than $2,000 a year.
In the implementation of the scheme, properties purchased from dairy farmers wishing to leave the industry will generally include fixed improvements which contribute approximately 20% to 25% of the fair market value. On the other hand, these fixed improvements may have no value for the purchaser of the land wishing to build up his property to a viable level. The Commonwealth, through its grant to the States, is prepared to meet the costs of writing off the value of any redundant fixed improvements purchased from the outgoing farmer. This means that any low-income dairy farmer who wishes voluntarily to quit the industry through the scheme can obtain a fair price for his farm rather than being forced out by economic strangulation, but the farmer whose property is being built up will not be called upon to become indebted for improvements that are not of direct use to him
This scheme will help dairy farmers. It will assist the economies of those regions where low-income farmers are concentrated. As the scheme progresses, it will contribute towards a solution of the oversupply of butterfat. It will help solve a special social problem in the rural sector and do so in a way that will be of benefit to the industry concerned and to the economy as a whole. Accordingly, the Commonwealth recently advised the States that it holds to the offer made last September and again asked each State for its co-operation. As I mentioned earlier. Western Australia has accepted the Commonwealth’s offer. I present the following paper:
Marginal Dairy Farm Reconstruction - Ministerial Statement, 20 May 1969.
Motion (by Mr Erwin) proposed:
That the House take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Dr Patterson) adjourned.
– by leave - For the information of honourable members I present a report of the Company Law Advisory Committee to the Standing Committee of Commonwealth and State Attorneys-General. The report is dated 28th February 1969 and is on the subjects of disclosure of substantial shareholdings and takeovers. The report is accompanied by an annexure setting out extracts from a General Revision Bill to which reference is made in the report.
The Company Law Advisory Committee was appointed by the Standing Committee of Commonwealth and State AttorneysGeneral on 9th August 1967. lt consists of Mr Justice Eggleston, as Chairman, Mr J. M. Rodd, a Melbourne solicitor and Mr P. C. E. Cox, a Sydney accountant. Its terms of reference are ‘to inquire into and report on the extent of the protection afforded to the investing public by the existing provisions of the uniform Companies Acts and to recommend what additional provisions, if any, are reasonably necessary to increase that protection’. In this state ment I shall for convenience refer to the Company Law Advisory Committee as ‘the Advisory Committee’.
Honourable members are probably aware that each State and Territory in Australia has its own companies legislation but that the relevant Acts and Ordinances are substantially uniform. Collectively these Acts and Ordinances are commonly referred to as the Uniform Companies Acts. The uniform legislation was an achievement of the Standing Committee of Commonwealth and State Attorneys-General, which has for some time been considering in the light of experience the need for the legislation to be amended in regard to a number of matters. Before the appointment of the Advisory Committee considerable preliminary work on proposed amendments had been done by the officers assisting the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General and this work was reflected in a draft General Revision Bill to which reference is made in the report of the Advisory Committee. The terms of reference of the Advisory Committee cover a number of fields of inquiry, and the Advisory Committee is furnishing interim reports on particular topics as it completes its consideration of those topics. The present report is the second of such interim reports furnished by the Advisory Committee.
Section B of the report deals with the need for provisions requiring the disclosure of substantial shareholdings. By way of explanation, I mention that it is a common practice for investors to have their shares registered in the names of nominees. A consequence of this practice is that information as to the existence and extent of substantial beneficial interests may not be available to other investors. In the United Kingdom and the United States of America there are legislative provisions requiring the disclosure of such substantia] interests.
The Advisory Committee has concluded that similar provisions are justified for Australia. It has accordingly recommended the enactment of provisions requiring a person with a beneficial interest of 10% or more in the nominal value of the voting capital of a company listed on an Australian Stock Exchange to give notice of that interest to the company. The detailed nature of the provisions recommended appears from the Advisory Committee’s report.
Section C of the report deals with takeover offers. Paragraph 15 points out that the Advisory Committee has not been actuated by any desire to discourage the making of take-over bids but has been concerned to ensure the observance of appropriate safeguards for the protection of shareholders. In the broad, the Advisory Committee has recommended two kinds of changes. Some are to tighten up the takeover code in sections 184 and 185 of the uniform Companies Acts; others are to give that code a wider application. The nature of the changes appears from the report. In view of recent publicity that has surrounded what are called ‘first come first served’ invitations, I point out that paragraphs 22 to 26 relate to such invitations.
At its meeting in Hobart on 7th March 1969 the Standing Committee of AttorneysGeneral agreed to adopt the Advisory Committee’s report in principle, subject to minor variations in detail and decided that the Ministers would refer it to their respective Governments.
The Commonwealth Government has considered the report and has decided to amend the Companies Ordinances of the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory to give effect to the Advisory Committee’s recommendations subject to any variations in detail that may be made in the course of drafting.
There are two additional amendments that the Commonwealth Government proposes to have made. These amendments will be especially relevant to takeover offers by overseas companies. For that reason they are outside the terms of reference of the Advisory Committee.
One of the amendments will provide that any amendment to the Articles of Association restricting voting rights shall require the affirmative vote of not less than fiftyone per cent in value of the shareholders of the class of shares affected. A similar requirement already exists in the listing requirements of the Australian Associated Stock Exchanges. The present position under the uniform Companies Acts is that any amendment of the Articles of Association of a company requires a special resolution, which, in turn, requires a threefourths majority of members of the company voting in person or by proxy. The proposed provision will be in the nature of an additional requirement, which will recognise the significance of a restriction on voting rights. Shareholders who do not . vote affirmatively for a restriction - including those who do not vote at all - will, in effect, be treated as opposed to the restriction.
The other additional amendment proposed by the Commonwealth Government relates to the notice of intention that must be given before a take-over offer is made. The present position is that this notice must be given not earlier than twenty-eight days, and not later than fourteen days, before the offer is made. The amendment will require the notice to be given not earlier than forty-two days and not later than twentyeight days. The additional notice provided for by the amendment will allow an offeree corporation a better opportunity of considering the terms of the offer and of taking steps, if it so desires, to amend its articles of association to restrict voting rights attached to shares held by overseas interests.
The drafting of the provisions to give effect to all the changes I have mentioned is at present in hand and it is expected that the drafts will be considered by the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General at its next meeting on 14th and 15th July 1969.
I present the following paper:
Company Law Reform - Disclosure of substantial shareholdings and take-overs - Ministerial Statement, 20 May 1969.
Motion (by Mr Erwin) proposed:
That the House take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Mr Whitlam) adjourned.
– Before the calling on of the next business I rise to privilege. During question time the Leader of the House (Mr Erwin) in answer to a question by the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr
Jess) said that the Government would make time available to debate a matter of public importance which the honourable member for La Trobe had proposed for discussion and which, in fact, he had notified to you, Mr Speaker. I submit that the Leader of the House was reflecting on your rights in this matter. You have already received a letter from the honourable member for La Trobe proposing such a matter for debate and you also received a letter from the honourable member for Stirling proposing another matter for discussion. You chose, as you are entitled to do under the Standing Orders, the second matter for discussion. It may well be - I certainly expect it will be the case - that there will be letters on the remaining sitting days, other than Thursdays, from myself and my colleagues proposing matters of public importance for discussion. If there is a renewed letter by the honourable member for La Trobe reiterating his matter then it is not for the Government to decide which matter will be discussed. It is for you, Mr Speaker, and I submit thai you should assert your rights in this case. My colleagues and I differed, with respect, from the decision you made when you received two letters a week ago. We, with respect, support the decision you have made today when confronted with two letters. You should assert, we submit, your rights to determine such matters-
-Order! I do nol think this is a matter of privilege. I think the Leader of the Opposition is getting away from the matter of privilege in referring to previous letters that were brought before me. Might I say this in reply to the honourable member, and to all members of the House: There may be no fear that the right of the Speaker under standing order 107 will be usurped by anybody.
– I rise to order. I asked the Leader of the House a question as to whether the Government would make time available. I did not mention a question of importance at all.
– I rise to order. It became known also during question time that the matter which you have permitted to be proposed for discussion will in fact be gagged. I ask you whether this is in order.
– This is something that the Chair is not aware of. The Chair cannot anticipate-
– I ask: Would it be in order for a matter to be debated in another place which is prevented from being debated in this place?
-I would point out that the Chair here has no responsibility as to what happens in another place and, in any case, it is not the duty of the Chair to advise any member on matters of procedure.
-I have received letters from both the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess) and the honourable member for Stirling (Mr Webb) proposing that definite matters of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion today. I have selected the matter proposed by the honourable member for Stirling, namely:
The urgent necessity to achieve justice and goodwill in industry by providing effective conciliation machinery for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes and by repealing the labour injunction and related contempt provisions of the present Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places. (More than the number of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places)
– I have been informed by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) that the fines associated with the present industrial dispute have been paid into court. That being the case, there seems to be no reason why this debate should not proceed.
– Order! While the Speaker is on his feet the honourable member for Stirling will remain sealed. 1 call the Leader of the House.
Motion (by Mr Erwin) put:
That the business of the day be called on.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. W. J. Aston)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill presented by Mr Bowen, and read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to increase the annual amounts payable to the Chief Justice and other Justices of the High Court of Australia. Their present salaries, last dealt with in 1965, are $24,000 a year for the Chief Justice and $21,000 a year for each other Justice. It is proposed that these salaries should now become $30,000 a year for the Chief Justice and $27,000 a year for each other Justice, and that, in addition, the Chief Justice be paid an allowance of $2,000 a year and each other Justice an allowance of $1,500 a year.
The Government has recently reviewed the salaries of all the Commonwealth judges, but this Bill, in recognition of the special! position occupied by the High Court in the Australian judicial system, deals separately with that Court. The High Court, unlike other courts, is established by the Constitution itself. Not only is the High Court entrusted with the special task of interpreting and safeguarding the Constitution, but it is also the supreme court of appeal in matters of State or Federal law. The High Court is thus clearly the most important court in Australia. Its decisions are internationally recognised, particularly in other countries with federal constitutions. It is beyond question that the High Court bench must be able to attract the most able and most learned lawyers in the country and for this reason alone the members of the High Court must be remunerated at a standard appreciably above that of the courts whose judgments they review.
The Government has stated before that it does not desire that there should be frequent changes in the judges’ sal’aries, but the considerations mentioned have in the past led to the review of judicial salaries at 4 to 5 yearly intervals. The salaries of the judges of the Supreme Courts of the States have been substantially increased since 1965, particularly in New South Wales. In 1965 the Chief Justice of the Supreme
Court received an annual salary of $18,500 and an annual allowance of $800. Now bis salary is $21,275 and his allowance $1,000. In 1965, other judges of the Supreme Court of New South Wales received an annual salary of 317,000 and an annual allowance of $600. The present figures are $19,550 and $750, except for the President of the Court of Appeal who receives an annual salary of $20,125 and an annual allowance of $750. As the allowances are not taxable, it will be seen that the effective judicial incomes of all judges of the Supreme Court of New South Wales are now the same as or higher than those of the Justices of the High Court with the exception of the Chief Justice. Even in the case of the Chief Justice of the High Court, the annual amount receivable by him is now only marginally higher than that receivable by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales.
The Government has decided that the position of the High Court requires that parliamentary approval should be sought for fixing the annual amounts payable to the Justices of the High Court of Australia at the figures I have already mentioned, and the Bill provides accordingly. The new figures will operate from the date of the assent to this Bill. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Connor) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Bowen, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill is complementary to the Judiciary Bill. The latter deals with the salaries of the judges of the High Court. The purpose of this Bill is to enable increased annual amounts to be paid to the judges of the Commonwealth Industrial Court, the Federal Court of Bankruptcy, the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory and the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory, and to the presidential members of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. [Quorum formed.] It will alter the salary of the judges and deputy presidents from $17,000 to $22,000 a year and that of the Chief Judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court and the President of the Commission from $19,000 to $24,000. In addition, the Chief Judge and the President are to receive $1,500 a year as an allowance. The other judges and the deputy presidents are to receive an annual allowance of $1,000. When the Government reviewed the salaries of the justices of the High Court, it also looked at the salaries of other Federal judges, and found the same disparity between the present salaries of those judges and State judges, to which I referred in my second reading speech dealing with the salaries of High Court judges.
The present basic judicial salary of $17,000 is no longer in keeping with the standing of the judges of the Commonwealth Industrial Court and the Territory Supreme Courts, which are superior courts having jurisdiction comparable with that of State Supreme Courts. I remind honourable members that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales now receives a salary of $21,275 and an annual allowance of $1,000. The President of the Court of Appeal receives an annual salary of $20,125 and an allowance of $750. The other judges of that Court receive a salary of $19,550 and an allowance of $750. In fact, the annual amount receivable at present by the Chairman of the District Court of New South Wales- $17,595, plus an annual allowance of $750- is appreciably greater than that receivable by the Commonwealth judges I have mentioned, other than the Chief Judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court. The effective annual amounts receivable by other District Court judges in New South Wales aTe almost exactly the same as the present salaries of those Commonwealth judges. The present amounts receivable by the Chief Justice and other Supreme Court judges in Victoria also are appreciably higher than the corresponding amounts receivable by the Chief Judge and judges of the Commonwealth Industrial Court.
The present salaries of the presidential members of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, which is the national industrial arbitration tribunal, are also appreciably lower than those of the President and other members of the Industrial Commission of New South Wales. The President and deputy presidents of the Commonwealth Commission receive the same salaries as the Chief Judge and the judges of the Commonwealth Industrial Court. The President and members of the New South Wales Commission receive the same salaries and allowances as the President of the Court of Appeal and puisne judges of the Supreme Court. The proposed increases will remove the disparities I have mentioned in relation to both other Commonwealth salaries and State judicial salaries, whilst maintaining a proper relationship with the salaries of the High Court judges. As in the case of the Judiciary Bill, the new provisions will become operative when the Bill is assented to. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Connor) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 34 May (vide page 1782), on motion by Mr McMahon:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
-The Commonwealth Aid Roads Bill 1969 provides for a Commonwealth grant to the States of $ 1,200m together with a supplementary grant of $52,050,000 for three States to maintain at least a 50% increase over and above the allocation made under the previous 5-year agreement. AH told the Commonwealth grant to the States for the next 5 years is $1,252,050,000, which is an increase over the previous allocation to the States of $750m. This matter of roads aid has always been a controversial one. Members of the Australian Labor Party have been in complete disagreement with the policy of the Government in using sales tax and petrol tax as a means of revenue rather than as a means of developing the Australian roads system. Australia is sadly in need of a national roads programme. In fact it is sadly in need of a complete transport system involving the integration of road, rail, sea and air transport. No longer can this country, with its limited population and its vast areas, enjoy the luxury of letting everything go its own way without any planning. No longer can Australia allow the shipping interests to be responsible for a certain part at their discretion or the railways, the airlines and private road hauliers to do some of it.
Instead of bringing down a Bill to deal with roads the Government should present to this Parliament in the not too distant future a comprehensive plan for the integration of the whole of our transport system so that goods can be transported throughout Australia at a much cheaper rate than is now possible. It is well known that transport costs are among the major costs in the economy of this country. Therefore anything that adds to the cost of production, such as the cost of transporting goods from one place to another, should be closely examined by this Government. It is the responsibility of the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) to bring before this Parliament at an early date a comprehensive programme for the integration of the whole of the Australian transport system.
The Opposition welcomes the change that will take place as a result of the introduction of this Bill, We have always considered the previous policy of making allocations to the States in accordance with area, the number of vehicles registered and population as an unfair and inequitable form of distributing money that has been raised by way of Federal tax. The new system is a much fairer one. I do not regard the amount of money that has been allocated as adequate, but the method of allocating it is much fairer. The needs of the city and country for development have been taken into consideration and a recommendation has been made to this Parliament to allocate the necessary money. As I said earlier, a grant of $ 1,200m is to be spent over the next 5 years. The Government has broken this up into $600,690,000 for urban arterial roads, $186,760,000 for rural arterial roads and $394,550,000 for rural roads other than arterial roads. In this way the Bill can give great assistance to urban development.
As one who represents a city electorate contained completely within the city of Newcastle, I know the problems that face local government bodies in the construction of roads in the inner city areas. I also appreciate the difficulties of shire councils, but at the same time some consideration has to be given to the amount of money which has been contributed by the urban taxpayer in the form of rates to local government bodies and in the form of tax on the petrol he uses to run his car around the cities. The new system which has been introduced to cater for the needs of the respective areas is a much more equitable form of distributing the revenue which has been, raised. As I said earlier, I do not agree with the amount that has been allocated. The Government has been miserly, considering the amount of money which has been derived from petrol tax. With the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate in Hansard a table setting out the amount of money that has been collected as customs and excise on automotive petrol and diesel fuel between 1958-59 and 1967- 68 and a table setting out the amount of sales tax collected in Australia on new motor cars and station wagons for the same period.
These tables show that between 1958-59 and 1968-69 the revenue collected by the Commonwealth in the form of excise and customs on petrol and diesel fuel totalled $1,930,108,000. In turn, the Commonwealth has paid to the States for roads $1,131,422,000, which shows that in the last 10 years there has been a surplus of $598,422,000. The surplus for the last 5 years is shown at $397m. So it is obvious that the Federal Government is using excise and customs on petrol and diesel fuels as a means of revenue. In the same period from 1958-59 to 1967-68 the Government has been able to raise by way of sales tax on new motor cars and station wagons a total of $1,103,234,000. From these figures it is obvious that the motorist today is probably one of the most heavily taxed persons in the community. A huge amount of money is being taken from the motor car industry. The average motorist has no objection whatsoever to paying tax on the petrol that he uses provided that the whole of that money is spent on road construction or on the development of a roads system. But the Government is using portion of that money for other purposes and portion of it for roads.
The Treasurer (Mr McMahon) stated in his second reading speech, and statements were made in March, that the Government has been most generous in increasing the allocation to the States from $750m to $ 1,252m, which will be the allocation over the next 5 years. I give the lie to this statement of generosity, because as far as I am concerned the Government is continuing to pursue the policy that it has pursued in recent years of using petrol tax as a means of revenue. I know that the Minister or Government supporters will come hack at me at a later stage and say that when the Australian Labor Party was in government between 1941 and 1949 it did not use the whole of the petrol tax for roads. I agree that the Labor Government did not use the whole of the petrol tax for the construction of roads at that time. But let us consider how the circumstances prevailing today differ from those that prevailed in the period from 1941 to 1949. From 1939 to 1945 we fought one of the greatest wars that was ever fought in the world. How could the Government carry on a policy of road construction during a time when everything was keyed for war production? There is an obvious explanation why roads were not given priority over the supply of war materials. During the period from 1946 to 1949 the Government was concentrating on building up the whole economy to meet the demands of the nation. Since that period this Government has had 20 years to build up the economy and to develop a road system and a transport system by using all the money raised as petrol tax on roads.
Other countries throughout the world use all the petrol tax they collect for the construction of roads. This Government should do likewise. As I said a few moments ago, in my opinion, the Government is still continuing its miserly policy of using petrol tax as a source of revenue. 1 have compiled two tables. The first one is based on my estimate of Government revenue for the next 5 years. This estimate is based on the average increase in the amount of customs and excise on petrol which this Government has been able to obtain over the past 10 years. The average yearly increase over the past 10 years has been 8%. If one applied that 8% to the next 5 years, one would finish with a surplus of $459m. If we take the figures submitted by the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads forecasting an increase in the consumption of petrol of about 5% a year, we find that in that period the Government will receive Si, 566m in revenue. Once again if we deduct from that $ 1.252m it will leave a surplus of $3 14m. What is the Government’s position? Where has it been so generous? Why has not the whole of this money been allocated to the States and to local government bodies for the construction of roads? ls there a need for more finance to be made available to State and local government authorities for road construction? Any fair minded citizen would agree with me that the Commonwealth should make more finance available to the States. On 18th March the National Roads and Motorists Association, in an editorial in its journal under the heading ‘Road Grant Inadequate’, stated:
We will continue to press for the whole of the fuel tax to be allocated for roads.
Clearly the Labor Party is not alone in this matter. The National Roads and Motorists Association, as the spokesman for motorists in New South Wales, is pressing strongly to have the whole of the fuel tax allocated to roads. If that money were added to the allocations now made to State and local government authorities for road construction much more could be done.
These days we hear a lot about road safety. The New South Wales Minister for Transport never seems too weary to come up with new ideas for improving road safety. He has used the Breathalyser, radar speed checks and plain clothes police in unmarked vehicles in an effort to catch motorists. But in my humble opinion the real problem is that the road system is not adequate to carry the volume of traffic that it has to carry at the speed at which modern motor vehicles travel. Motor car manufacturers are producing vehicles that travel faster than superseded models. The manufacturers boast that their new vehicles can travel at 120 miles an hour but they do not tell the public that our roads are not capable of carrying vehicles travelling at that speed. Until our roads are improved the fatality rate will continue to rise.
I wonder whether the Government was proud of the recent announcement that the road fatality rate in Australia was the highest of any country. In New Zealand there are 5.2 road deaths for every 10.000 vehicles registered; in the United States 5.5 deaths; in the United Kingdom 6.1; and in Canada 7.2. In Australia there are 8.1 deaths for every 10,000 vehicles registered.
Our figure U roughly 50% greater than the figures for New Zealand and the United States. The Government must be proud of Australia’s record of having the worst road fatality rate of any major developed country.
In 1967-68 there were 3,249 people killed and 81,148 injured in road accidents in Australia. The Treasurer must be aware of the cost of those deaths and injuries to the economy. He will appreciate what the lost earning capacity of the 3,249 people killed and more than 81,000 injured means to the economy. The cost of repairing the vehicles involved in those accidents would be staggering. The Australian Road Research Board has estimated that motor vehicle accidents in Australia during 1966-67 - the last year for which official figures are available - cost between $550m and $775m. Does the Treasurer think that such a staggering cost does not call for consideration by the Government? Taking the higher figure of $775m we find that it represents more than 50% of the amount which the Commonwealth , is making available to the States for the construction of roads in the next 5 years. The sum which the Government proposes to hand to the States is about $470m on my assessment, but S3 14m on the Government’s assessment, less than receipts from the fuel tax. However, if it does anything to save Australian lives and reduce production losses it will be money well spent. The New South Wales Commissioner for Main Roads, in an article published in the journal of the Department of Main Roads in July 1968, said:
It is of interest to know that on rural highways two or more vehicles are involved in 59% of all accidents whereas on the tollway only 12% of the accidents involve two or more vehicles.
He was referring to the section of the Sydney to Newcastle tollway that had been completed at that stage. I stress those figures because they are important. They show what great savings in lives may be effected if you have a divided carriageway. Injuries and production losses may be reduced considerably by building more dual carriageways. This is a matter which, for the sake of road safety, the Treasurer should consider. Perhaps the young lady who lost her life only last week in an accident between a semi-trailer and a tourist bus would be alive today if the vehicles had been travelling on a divided carriage way similar to the tollway. Remember that the accident took place on one of Australia’s principal highways - the Hume Highway. It is not a back rural road; it is the principal highway between Sydney and Melbourne. It is a disgrace that accidents of this kind should occur on our major highways. This is not something that we can be proud of. We should be working to avoid the possibility of vehicles colliding head on. In the interests of road safety it is up to the Government to provide safer roads.
Road construction requires a great deal of research. I recently had the opportunity to discuss road research being carried out in the United States. I welcome the expenditure of $18m on research over the next 5 years. This is a most important matter. I think the amount should be increased. We should carry out research into the types of vehicles using our roads, the best type of road construction, gradients and so on. Research in the United States into accidents caused by vehicles leaving the road has led to the finding that banking of roads should not be too sharp. Roads should be designed in such a way that when a vehicle leaves the road it does not roll. The Government should be engaged in research of this kind. I would not oppose an increase in the proposed expenditure of $18m if it would help to make our roads safer and enable people to travel from one point to another more safely than they can now.
Traffic delays lead to loss of productivity. As the representative of a city electorate the Treasurer knows of the congestion that occurs in capital cities. He knows that many man hours are lost when vehicles are forced to wait to pass over level crossings, are held up at traffic lights or are delayed by congestion on the roads. In September last year when presenting the firm’s annual report the Managing Director of Mayne Nickless Ltd said:
Every minute a truck is delayed in traffic or at loading or unloading points costs between 5 cents and 10 cents.
Any honourable member can work out how much the nation loses when vehicles are held up in traffic. We have seen how traffic crawls during the morning and afternoon peak periods. I recall vividly how early this year I travelled across Sydney a distance of about 18 miles. The journey took lt hours. I was not driving the car; the driver was an experienced Commonwealth driver who knew Sydney like the back of his hand. As a result of this congestion the economy as a whole sustains a great loss.
Is it any wonder that the people who are responsible for transport in Australia today are continually complaining and demanding that more money should be spent on roads? Is it any wonder that they can produce figures such as those that 1 have quoted to the House dealing with the death rate on roads as a result of holdups and delays caused to traffic at level crossings, for instance? The Government should be pursuing a policy of endeavouring to eliminate rail crossings wherever this is possible. I am not talking about rural level crossings where so many lives are lost. This is something in which I think the railway authorities responsible have a part to play. They should tackle the problem of rural roads where cars collide with oncoming trains. This system of level crossings is something about which 1 think these authorities must take action at a very early date.
There are just a few features of the Bill to which I would tike to make reference. I note with interest that the Government has broadened the interpretation of the word ‘road’, in terms of the use of these grants to include:
Whilst the Bill makes provision that this money may be spent on those items, I would like the Government to insist on a certain amount of this money being spent on those facilities. Under previous roads agreements, road funds could not be used for traffic control or for street lighting. It is obvious that street lighting or lighting of main roads is just as important as the other items that were covered. It is just as important that main roads be lit adequately as it is to have those main roads constructed properly. I would like the Treasurer to insist that a certain amount of this money be spent on providing lighting for main roads or for arterial roads, for the reasons that I have just outlined. That is why much safer crossings are not provided. Provision is made for better facilities. Papers that have been presented at different places have clearly established that lighting is important in road safety. I would like the Treasurer to insist that a certain amount of this money be made available for street lighting on main roads.
Another point in the Bill to which I wish to refer is contained in clause 2 which states: (2.) An amount paid by a State to a municipal, shire or other local authority for a particular purpose shall, for the purposes of this Act, be deemed to have been expended by the State for that purpose, and an amount set aside by a State for payment to a municipal, shire or other local authority for a particular purpose shall, for the purposes of this Act, be deemed to have been set aside by the State for expenditure for that purpose.
I will illustrate to the House what concerns me. In his second reading speech the Treasurer said:
If State and local authorities again increase expenditure on roads from their own resources by about 50% over the next 5 years, total roads expenditure, could, with a Commonwealth aid roads grant of $l,252m, reach about $3, 900m, an increase of about 54%.
What concerns me is that the Government, according to this Bill, has limited the minimum increase that the States are required to contribute by writing into the Bill a clause that provides that the States shall increase their allocation for roads by the increase in the number of registered vehicles in the State concerned over and above the number of registered vehicles in the base year of 1966.
– The minimum figure.
– I said the minimum amount. The States can allocate more if they want to do so. They can increase registration charges or obtain additional money how they like. The minimum amount is that determined by an increase in the number of vehicles registered over and above the number of registered vehicles in the base year of 1966. No provision has been written into the Bill restricting local government contributions or providing what shall be the minimum amount that a local government shall contribute. Knowing something about the road agreements in New South Wales between the Department of Main Roads and local governments, I can visualise some local government authorities being placed in the most embarrassing position of being offered by the Department a large sum which, according to the formula of the Department, has to be matched by the local authority that is to receive it. This could place a council in a most embarrassing position. It might need to increase its rate substantially.
I have here a table that was supplied to me by the Town Clerk of the City of Newcastle. Admittedly, it is dated 28th March 1966. I did not ask that gentleman to go to the trouble of bringing it up to date. All I want to do is to show a percentage comparison of the difference that exists between local government requirements and Department of Main Roads grants. In the 10 years ended 1965, the Department of Main Roads allocated £1,540,141 and the contribution from the councils was £690,533. So, the councils had to provide approximately 45% of the money used for road purposes. The figure varies from year to year. I can show the House that in some years there were matching grants. In the 1956 agreement, the Department of Main Roads grant was £53,000 and the contribution by the councils was £56,000. In 1965, the grant by the Department was $311,000 and the contribution by the councils totalled $204,000. The figures fluctuate year by year.
What I am getting at is that the contribution by the State governments is regulated under the Bill. The Bill lays down the minimum amount that they are required to contribute based on movements in the registration of vehicles. But I point out that a local government could be placed in the terribly embarrassing position of having either to reject a grant from the Department of Main Roads or of increasing its rates. I would like the Government to make sure that some of this money is allocated direct to local governments, but I realise that in such a case a problem concerning State politics arises. What the States give to local government is their responsibility. But the whole thing is tied up with roads. I believe that some discussion should be held between the Commonwealth, the States and the representatives of local government- either the Australian Local Government Association or each State local government association - to hammer out this question of finance for roads as it involves the Department of Main Roads and local authorities in each State so that local government authorities will not be placed in the embarrassing situation which I have indicated and which I fear might arise if the Commonwealth Government continues to allocate money to States for roads and leaves it with those States to determine to whom the money should be granted. I believe that some clear understanding should exist on this important subject, if necessary, after discussions on it.
I wish to refer to one other point in this Bill. This is the question of assistance to the maritime industry. I have with me the annual report for the year ended 1967-68 of the New South Wales Maritime Services Board. It discloses that, in the 12 months period, 27,030 vessels were registered and that licences were held for the control of the vessels capable of travelling in excess of 10 miles per hour and of less than 50 feet in length. I refer to the power boat, the pleasure craft that so many people are buying today. These figures disclosed that in New South Wales alone 27,030 of these vessels were registered. We could more than double that figure to get the total number of vessels for the whole of Australia. It would be difficult to get precise figures. Recently I asked the responsible Minister how much revenue was raised by way of petrol tax on these vehicles. He was unable to give me any indication of the amount. I am one who owns one of these boats. It is not a big one. I do not get the opportunity to use it a lot, but I do know the amount of petrol which is consumed by craft of this kind.
I know of the need to provide ramps and navigational facilities for them in estuaries, rivers, harbours and the like so that the people who own these boats for pleasure can get some benefit out of them. Under the previous agreement the States received some assistance from the money collected from these vessels, but under this Bill there is no such provision. I should like the Minister at some later stage to amend the Bill to make available to the States some of the money that is collected by way of taxes on petrol and diesel fuel. I have a Press cutting in front of me relating to a question that was asked of Mr Davis Hughes, the Country Party Minister for Public Works in New South Wales. He was asked whether he was aware that a fishing port on the New South Wales coast was in dire circumstances because there were only inches of water on the bar at low water and whether he would make available some money out of the petrol tax that was collected to enable the dredging of the port. Fishing boats and pleasure craft use these ports and there is need for the Government to consider giving some financial assistance to enable better facilities to be provided.
I should not like to estimate how much revenue the Commonwealth collects from this source but 1 would hazard the guess that it would be at least $2m in the next 5 years. That would be a conservative estimate. If the Commonwealth gave that amount to the States and the States added to . it the money they collected from the registration of these boats and the licensing of the drivers - every person who drives a power boat capable of travelling at 10 miles an hour or more has to be licensed - the States could supply improved facilities at the river estuaries, ports and even outside ports for these boats. 1 ask the Government to give serious consideration to this aspect. I do not want to press, this matter further, but on behalf of the Opposition I move:
– Order! Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment and reserve my right to speak later.
– Under this Bill the States are to be granted financial assistance for road works. A sum of $ 1,252m is to be made available over a period of 5 years. This is 67% more than the total grants of about $750m during the previous 5 years.. This is a considerable increase, regardless of what some honourable members may suggest. The responsibility for building and maintaining roads, rests with the State governments and local authorities who play an important part in this scheme of things throughout Australia. The Commonwealth’s role in the main has been to make money available for such purposes. Back in 1930 it provided about $4m a year but now that provision has increased to the proportions that I mentioned earlier.
During the last 5 years, when $750m was made available, there was little guidance as to where the money was to be spent, except that at least 40% was to be spent on rural roads other than main roads, highways and trunk roads. There was also a stipulation as to an amount that was to be made available in respect of watercraft, but some change is proposed in the present legislation. The stipulation regarding the 40% expenditure has, to some extent, disappeared, but we do have a base figure that has to be applied to rural roads other than arterial roads. That sum will be escalated at the rate of 5% compounded over the next 5 years. In Western Australia the situation is somewhat different because an extra amount of $40m is being made available.
There are three main categories on which money is to be spent. Some $600m is to be allocated for the construction of arterial and sub-arterial roads in the State capitals and major provincial cities; almost $187m is to be expended on arterial roads in rural areas; and almost $395m is to be spent on minor rural roads. In addition SI 8m is to be devoted to road planning and research. Supplementary grants totalling about $52m are to be provided to Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania. Western Australia, will receive about $40m in supplementary grants. This provision is important to Western Australia. However, it is difficult to follow how the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads decided that Western Australia should receive about 8% of the total amount to be provided to the States for roads. Western Australia is almost one-third of the size of the Commonwealth and it is developing at a tremendous pace. Tt is of extreme importance to the Commonwealth as a whole. I do not think I am exaggerating when I say that the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) and the Government will be looking to Western Australia to balance the Commonwealth’s books during the period 1970 to 1980. I notice that the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) is smiling. T do not know whether he is smiling at that statement, but Australia’s balance of payments in the mid- 1970s will be relying heavily on mineral exports and the largest percentage of such exports will be from Western Australia. If sufficient exports are to be made then the Commonwealth must do its bit in helping to provide adequate roads because there is not one railway in the area of the mineral discoveries that has been built by the Government. Private money has been spent in the area. Roads play a tremendous part in this development. 1 do not treat this matter lightly. I treat it very seriously, when I consider our future balance of payments position. The west is progressing very rapidly, not only in relation to the development of iron ore deposits but also in relation to the development of the agricultural industries. In many areas in which development is taking place, road transport is the only means of transport available. There is no other form of transport. Railways have not been built up in the southern areas of the Slate of Western Australia. Commonwealth money was used to upgrade the railway line between Kalgoorlie and Perth, but this again was done in order to carry iron ore to Kwinana or Cockburn Sound.
There are one or two other points I want to make in relation to the construction of roads in urban areas. Urban road development is now split up into two categories, but in many cases the area involved is not entirely urban. In many cases it comes within the rural sector and it takes in a number of shires which will not be able to receive assistance provided in the Bill for the rural sector. This area will depend entirely on receiving assistance provided for the urban sector. This could create some difficulties. I understand that the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) has certain powers available to him. One of those powers is to designate the roads on which money shall be spent. Therefore I believe that he should look very closely at some of these areas outside the metropolitan area, which take in a considerable number of shires but which come within the urban sector as defined in this Bill. These are not urban areas in the true sense. They may be urban areas in 20 or 30 years, but within the 5 years covered by this Bill they will be defined as urban areas and will not be able to receive the assistance provided in this Bill for the rural sector. As the Minister has power to designate upon which roads money should be spent, I believe he should look very closely at the question I have raised. The State Government in Western Australia has a responsibility in this matter. It can spend the additional $40m which it is to receive under this Bill on any road which it nominates. The Commonwealth does not place any restriction on which roads the State may nominate.
Referring back to the 8% of the total amount which it was suggested should be spent on roads in Western Australia, I point out that country roads have an important role to play today. A tremendous .amount of goods is transported on country roads. The transport of the whole of the wheat crop, the wool clip and our meat production, which comprise the three major industries in Australia at the present time, has to start in country areas, and almost without exception it starts on country roads. Regarding the five per cent annual increase over the base year to be spent on roads in the rural sector, that is, other than arterial roads, the amount could well have been greater when we consider the areas in this country which rely entirely upon roads. There is no other form of transportation available in these areas. We must also take into consideration the tonnage of goods which is carted over these roads and also the fact that school buses, which are the only means of getting children to school in these areas, have to travel over these roads. There is no other form of transport available for these children, and in many areas of Australia the children just do not get to school at certain times of the year. So any restriction which is placed on the amount of money spent on roads in these areas would have a detrimental effect on these children.
As I mentioned previously, railways are just not built in rural’ areas. Railways are built only for the carriage of large tonnages of bulk cargo, such as iron ore, bauxite or some other mineral. We have an important role to see that country people get what I call a fair go in country areas in which road transport is the only means of transport. A reasonable amount of money is being made available in this Bill, but the States themselves will have to do their bil in making extra finance available in some areas. In this measure the Commonwealth has laid down the areas in which it is intended that the money should be spent. lt has laid down three main categories in relation to roads and it has also laid down that money shall be provided for planning and research. I think it would be a good idea if the States themselves were to do precisely the same thing, that is, to lay down the categories in which money is intended to be spent by the States and local authorities in the next 5 years. They could bring forth a table which showed the areas in which they intended to spend the money, as has been done by the Commonwealth. Then all would know precisely where the money is to be spent.
I should like to say a word or two about the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads and the report which it has presented. As I have mentioned, the Bureau recommended that approximately 8% of the money made available to the States for roads should be given to Western Australia. I think it recommended that Tasmania should receive about 6% - previously it had been receiving 5%. It recommended that South Australia should receive about 6%, Queensland about 21%, Victoria about 19% and New South Wales about 36%. I think that was the Bureau’s finding. It did a cost analysis, which is part of the modern technique in arriving at answers to certain questions. When one is doing a survey on something one does a cost analysis. It is very interesting to note how the Bureau went about this matter. Of course, it did not have a great deal of time in which to arrive at a result, and I am not in possession of a more recent report which I understand will be available. Perhaps it will be somewhat clearer. But in the report I have before me the Bureau said that the survey was not really complete. It stated: .
It was not practicable to measure, in monetary terms, certain benefits and costs associated with investment in new road works, e.g. the net benefit to the community of all weather access to farm properties; improved accessibility to rural areas; damage to goods in transit; tourism; provision of parking facilities; . . .
If one cannot analyse those benefits and costs one cannot arrive at a very accurate figure. When looking at this question surely one does not take the number of vehicles containing one person travelling along the road, add up certain numbers and come to a certain conclusion. Surely one must take into consideration the tonnages of goods that are being shifted in this country, for the benefit of the country and for the very survival of the country, as well as the number of vehicles that are moving across country or city areas. The number of vehicles does not mean very much. We must consider the tonnage of the goods being carried and the number of people shifting these goods. This matter is not to be ignored in the future, because provision for planning and research is made in this Bill. No doubt some research will be done in the metropolitan areas of Australia. I hope that some planning and research will be done in relation to industries. I certainly hope that some overall planning and research will be done, because transport is the biggest single cost in Australia. One gets into an awful mess in this country if one tries to carry out some cost surveys in relation to getting goods from point A to point B.
It is interesting to note what has in fact been happening, not only in Australia but in other countries, in regard to congestion and what can be done about this problem. New York might be a good example of this. A freeway has been built in New York around Manhatten Island. This was very good for the movement of road traffic in that area. But it was recognised almost immediately by those who knew that goods moving into Manhattan Island, which is almost surrounded by finger berths, by way of water would have to go to some other place because of the congestion caused by this freeway. This road was built right against the water’s edge. The people who built this road might as well have built a wall because this is exactly the result. One section of transport cannot be hemmed off in this fashion by another section of transport. But this is exactly what is happening in some Australian cities today. Sydney is a glaring example of this. The result in New York has been that shipping interests have left the area completely and have gone out to Elizabeth where they have secured hundreds of acres of territory and have started all over again.
The people of Australia have to realise that our various sections of transport have to couple up, one with the other. Until this is done we will always have the tremendous congestion that we find in Australia today. This is where costs and delays are found. This is where the real problems are. We cannot carry out research or planning for roads in a piecemeal way; we must do ii in conjunction with all sections of transport. Until this fact is recognised in Australia we will not get anywhere in regard to the cost factor. There problems can be seen in major areas of the world today. Some countries have recognised the problems and have done something about them, but many areas in Australia are still in the position where walls are literally being built between different sections of transport. Until we get out of this situation we can never hope to make a success of what we are trying to do. This is a very costly process. So, I suggest to the Government that if it wants to carry out research and planning on roads the work should be done in conjunction with al) other sections of transport and should no! be tied to the section relating to roads only
I would like to say one or two words about the other sections involved in the area of road construction. A large part of the burden of constructing roads does not fall only on the States themselves; it falls also on the many local authorities, if we look at the monetary situation in Australia today we shall find that local authorities’ share of the national debt has gone up to an extremely high level over the last few years when compared with the national debt of the Commonwealth and the States. I would not like to see local authorities forced into the position where they would have to increase their rates in order to pay for the building of roads. I believe that there another means and ways of obtaining moneys for this purpose.
I have already said that there has been a big lift of 67% in the level of proposed grants which will be made available by the Commonwealth Government to the States. The States are able to spend the moneys collected within their boundaries, either by the local authorities or their own authorities from various sources such as registration, wherever they like. Within this field, I believe, sufficient money is being collected by way of rates from local authorities such as shires. The amount of rates paid is quite high enough in some cases. There may be some exceptions - there always is to every rule, but generally speaking the rates are quite high enough in the shires. We cannot afford to increase the cost spiral that exists in country areas.
Quite often we have heard in this House talk about the principle of one vote one value. Okay, but if any honourable members disagree with me when I say that the rates in shires in country areas are not high enough today I suggest that they do an exercise on the amount per head that is paid in the form of rates in country shires and the amount that is paid per head in the cities of Australia. I think that when this exercise is done that honourable members will agree with me that people who live in country shires pay sufficient rates. I am not suggesting that there might not be some increase in some city areas; but if this exercise is done honourable members will find that the rates are quite high enough, and in fact in many cases are far too high, in country areas. So, I suggest that if more money is required in some country areas for the purpose of building and maintaining roads the money should come from State resources and not from an increase in rates.
This is a very important measure. I hope to see in the next 5 years a big improvement in the roads of Australia. In carrying out planning we must not only couple the States and the main centres together but also look at the problems of getting our produce to the markets. It is the produce of the land which represents real money; it represents the real wealth of this country. The only new money we can look for must come from the soil itself; it cannot come from anywhere else. Therefore, minerals, wheat, meat and any other primary industry that one would like to mention represent the only real wealth in this country. If we solve our problems in the cities alone in regard to traffic congestion and forget about the situation in the places where our real wealth comes from, in my book we will be very sadly disillusioned.
Today about 80% of the goods in this country are carried by road vehicles. I think that if we analyse the situation we shall find that this percentage is rising. So it is evident that not less money, but more money is required in this field. I repeat that not merely in this country but all over the world, it is only heavy, bulk cargoes such as metals that are carried by rail today or for which new railways are being built. In every other field the tonnage of goods carried by rail is diminishing and the tonnage carried by other forms of transport which are mainly forms of road transport is rising. In this country we have a tremendous road mileage. We have a very big area to cover and we need a lot of planning and money to provide the necessary roads. I feel that this Bill can meet this need to a large extent. I would like the States to allocate money to certain areas for roads so that everyone will then know the precise position. The Commonwealth has done so on this occasion - the first occasion that I know of. It has eliminated the section dealing with water craft, but as I mentioned earlier in my speech, . a lot of work has to be done in this area. . We know that Australia will be engaged in overseas shipping and that a new type of water transport is coming to Australia and I feel sure that the Commonwealth will be looking at this field and planning to meet some of the requirements. We know that the Commonwealth will make the necessary facilities available so that this form of transport will fit in with the planning and research which will be done by the Bureau of Roads and the State governments in relation to roads. Unless these two sections of transport are coupled together a lot of our money that will be spent in this 5 years will not be spent to the best advantage of Australia.
– I listened very attentively to the speech of the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones). I believe it was a most valuable speech. I refer particularly to the part in which he referred to the loss of life in traffic accidents which is due to our inadequate road system. Many of the other points which he stressed coincided with my own views, particularly in relation to the chaotic position of the major cities’ traffic problems. I shall touch on that later. The honourable member for Canning (Mr Hallett) rightly mentioned the future road needs of his own State of Western Australia. However, I should like to remind the honourable member that some of the other States are also concerned not only about their future needs but about their immediate needs in regard to their city traffic problems. Despite the fact that the motor vehicle users in the Sydney metropolitan area contribute more than 50% of the whole of the fuel tax paid in New South Wales, only 10% of the Commonwealth allocation to New South Wales is expended on the Sydney metropolitan roads. This legislation before us will become effective as from 1st July 1969 and will operate until 30th June 1974. It makes provision for Commonwealth financial assistance to the States for roads, as specified in the formula, of a grand total of $1,252,050,000, of which $52,050,000 is by way of special grants of $40.8m to Western Australia, $9m to South Australia, and $2.25m to Tasmania.
Before confining my remarks to this legislation I shall refer to the current 5-year plan which expires on 30th June next. The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) issued a public statement recently - in March of this year - that the Commonwealth had provided $750m to the States for roads over the past 5 years. By a question on notice which I directed to the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) I ascertained that the Commonwealth had received approximately $l,130m in fuel tax over this period which clearly shows the Commonwealth made a profit of at least $3 80m on the deal. The proposed legislation now before us contains provision for allocations amounting to amounts: $380.4m for New South Wales, $254.4m for Victoria, $231.6m for Queensland, $129m for South Australia, $200.4m for Western Australia and $56. 25m for Tasmania. Included in the allocations to Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania are the special grants which I mentioned previously. The Commonwealth Bureau of Roads was established by the Government in 1966. Appendix 2 of the Bureau’s report to the Parliament in 1969 reveals some very interesting analyses of what is anticipated in regard to the population increase, the increase in the number of registered motor vehicles and the estimated consumption of motor spirit from 1969 to 1974 inclusive. For example, it is suggested that the number of registered vehicles on the road will increase by 1,330,000 from 4.8 million to 6.17 million, and that the consumption of motor spirit would amount to 11,914 million gallons. At the present rate of excise of 12.3 cents a gallon this would return a profit on fuel tax to the Commonwealth of approximately $3 15m. However, I submit that there is every likelihood of a further increase in excise on motor spirit before 30th June 1974 which would further increase the revenue obtained from this source.
It is interesting to note that in the current 5-year plan due to expire on 30th June this year, the motor vehicle users in New South Wales and Victoria contributed approximately SI 72m to the other States for their roads. For example, for each $1 contributed by the individual States in fuel tax Western Australia received back 52.05, Tasmania $1.53, Queensland $1.27, South Australia $1.06, New South Wales 83c and Victoria 67c. So it can readily be seen that Victoria and New South Wales play a major role in catering for the road needs of the other four States, particularly Western Australia and Tasmania. One important factor which has not been taken into account in this Bill, as was the case in 1964, is the question of the maintenance of roads in each State. For example, the cost of maintaining roads in New South Wales and Victoria is much higher than in the other States. This is due to the volume of traffic, particularly heavy trailer vehicles. I would venture to say that the ratio of trailer vehicle use in New South Wales and Victoria as against Western Australia and Tasmania would be at least ten to one.
I shall now refer to the part played by local government authorities in the construction and maintenance of our road system. These bodies are responsible for 70% of this work. This is placing a perennial drain on the financial resources of local government bodies, and it must be emphasised that local government authorities have only three sources of income, that is, rates, loan money and Government grants. I shall categorise the three sources of finance. Firstly, rates have increased more than 500% over the past 20 years until today they have almost reached saturation point. This is evidenced by the fact that many local authorities are often faced with difficulties in collecting rates due, simply because many ratepayers cannot afford to pay them. Secondly, in relation to loan money, we find local government authorities are indebted for approximately $600m, upon which an annual interest bill of $30m is paid. The shouldering of this interest burden has been and is a major contributing factor in forc ing local authorities to charge high rates which, in many areas, are deemed extremely excessive. Thirdly, Government grants average only about 15% of local government expenditure on roads. This compares most unfavourably with the grant of 27% to the States by the United States Government and 31% to the provinces by the Canadian Government.
The traffic position in the capital cities, particularly Sydney and Melbourne, is now a major problem for road authorities, and, with the rapidly increasing number of motor vehicles on the roads additional finance must be made available immediately to provide additional outlets for traffic. Unless this is done there will be complete chaos in city traffic over the next 5 years. A conference of the lord mayors of major cities of Australia several years ago stressed this point when the problem was not as acute as it is today. This is also evidenced by a resolution passed at a Pan American Congress held in Washington DC several years ago. An extract from the resolution reads:
Since the need of the cities for highway development and modernisation was not, until recently, as obvious as the needs for road improvement in rural areas, the rural areas in the past have been given preferred attention. The accumulating highway needs of the cities have now become urgent. They are receiving more attention and a greater share of State and Federal highway tax revenue.
That extract highlights the fact that our major cities traffic problems are now similar to those of the major cities in the United States of America. 1 repeat and emphasise that additional finance must be channelled into the construction of outlets for city traffic. It is recognised by traffic experts that the slowing down of traffic and the many bank-ups of traffic in the cities are contributing in a large degree to the high cost of transporting goods. I would say that there is no completely satisfactory solution to this city traffic problem. However, I submit the position can be considerably relieved.
In addition to providing finance for city outlets, the State governments should do more about the control of traffic. For example, I suggest that deliveries of goods to retail stores in the city should be made at night time. This would no doubt relieve the position considerably. Thought must also be given by the New .South Wales
Government either to the erection of a second bridge to span Sydney Harbour or the construction of a tunnel beneath it. These suggestions have been mooted and discussed for some time now but as yet no finality has been reached or planning commenced. 1 should also like to speak, if I may, about some of the problems of traffic in Sydney and especially about the problems that relate to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. No government would take it upon itself to try to prevent motorists using that bridge during peak hours in the morning and evening, but we have a - ridiculous situation. Many Sydney business people who live within a stone’s throw of stations on the northern railway line and work within a stone’s throw of Wynyard, Town Hall and Museum stations, drive their motor cars to work every day, park them in the city and pay the parking fee. The State Government should consider restricting the use of private vehicles in the city in future. I am aware that this would be a most unpopular move, but such action must be taken in the future if we are to overcome the chaotic conditions that we see in the major Australian cities now.
– It is normal in debates relating to the provision of financial assistance to the States for Commonwealth aid roads grants for the Opposition to be led by the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones). Today was no exception. However, it should be said that not more than 6 weeks ago, on 25th March, he raised in this House a matter of public importance which more or less related to the same subject. Today he used much the same arguments as he used on the earlier occasion. His contribution to the debate then and today centred on the necessity in his mind for the whole of the revenue collected by the Commonwealth from customs and excise taxes on petrol and diesel fuel to be used on roads by the States and the local government authorities and perhaps by the Commonwealth Government too. This proposition is fallacious. Aircraft use diesel fuel, kerosene or fuel of some kind. Manufacturers throughout Australia use automotive fuel in many of their operations. In addition, the Constitution, as far as I can make out, insists that all moneys collected by the
Commonwealth be paid into Consolidated Revenue. No doubt that is the reason why the Bill, in clause 13, provides:
Payments under this Act shall be made out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which is appropriated accordingly.
To continue to argue that money collected by the Government from customs and excise should be paid back to the people of Australia for roads is to my mind fallacious.
Another point made by the honourable member for Newcastle was that the Bureau of Roads said in its report that the revenue from fuel taxes would increase by approximately 4.9%. For the sake of rounding off the figure, the honourable member for Newcastle in March and again today used the figure of 5%. On the basis of compound interest, we would find that the moneys spent over the next 5 years would be 27.6% more than the moneys spent over the past 5 years. I have compounded the rate of 5% per annum. In fact, the amount that is being allocated to the States for roads in the next 5 years will be 67% more than the amount allocated in the past 5 years. If we go back to a previous quinquennium -that is, from 1959 to 1964 - we find that the amount allocated for this purpose was 50% more than the amount in the previous period and not 27.6%. If we go back still further to the period from 1954 to 1959 we find that the increase was 62%. In other words, in 15 years the increases of the amount allocated by the Commonwealth for roads have been 62% between 1954 and 1959 and 50% between 1959 and 1964. The amounts now allocated will be an increase of 67% over the previous allocation. As has been mentioned, the previous allocation by this Government to the States was $750m and the amount now allocated will be $ 1,200m, with an additional $52m to be spent in Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia.
As I see it, this is a fairly simple Bill. Perhaps I should go back over the history of the allocation of money to the States for this purpose. I have always found it interesting to look at past legislation introduced into the Parliament by the government of the day. This type of legislation goes back to 1923. The Victorian Year Book states that, constitutionally, road construction is the responsibility of the States, but in varying amounts over the years the
Commonwealth has assisted by providing money for the purpose. In 1923 the Commonwealth Government offered a grant of $264,000 to the States on a 50-50 matching basis. This amount was to be used specifically for main roads. A distribution of 5% was made to Tasmania and this percentage has remained fairly static since then, although in the next quinquennium Tasmania will receive 6% of the total allocation. In 1923 the method of allocating the money to the States was made on the basis of three-fifths on the basis of population and two-fifths on the basis of area. In those days, of course, the motor car was not a popular vehicle and the legislation made no mention of motor vehicles at all. Roads were the main concern then and still are.
By reading Hansard for those days and for the intervening years I find that Treasurers of the various governments have never had the intention of invading State responsibilities. Certainly in the construction of roads the Commonwealth Government then and now always intended to assist the States in their activities and to assist them to the limit of the capacity of the Commonwealth Government. So when we read in newspapers that State Premiers claim sovereign rights as to what should be done here or should be done there, 1 feel that they must accept that this Commonwealth Government has done a tidy job. By 1st July this year we will have signed an agreement allocating to the States, in proportions already decided by them, $l,252m and there will be no strings, except several minor variations to the previous agreement. We have heard recently in questions in this House and elsewhere that one Premier has said that he will not do anything about matching the amounts that the Commonwealth Government will contribute to his and other States for nursing aid. 1 find on looking back through the records that that particular State is already spending $450,000 on nursing aid. I believe that the Premier feels that if the Commonwealth Government makes a contribution to that State he will be saddled with this $450,000 for nursing aid for all time. That Premier say that social services are the responsibility of the Commonwealth and the Federal Government accepts this responsibility. I would trade with him the $450,000 referred to for the $254.4m which that State will now receive in the form of a grant for roads. If this State Premier continues to talk about the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government on the one hand and how be as a State Premier has sovereign rights on the other hand, that would be a good trade from my point of view.
Since 1923 these Commonwealth grants to the States have been given freely and by and large without any strings attached. Generally the grants to the States take two forms - general assistance under what is known as the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act and assistance for specific roads of national importance. All honourable members know that beef roads are of national importance to this country, that they have been a tremendous help in the development of Australia, and that they have filled a much needed want in the defence of the country. These roads, which have been built in the northern and western areas, have been advantageous to the people of Australia and to the national economy. No doubt the legislation with which we are now dealing was discussed at the Premiers Conference held on 1.3th March this year. As a result of the discussions and the liberality of the Treasurer a sum 67% greater than the grant under the previous agreement has been granted to the States to produce really good roads in the next 5 years. The grand total of contributions by the Commonwealth to the States for the next 5 years will be $l,252m, which is an increase of $500m on that allocated for the previous 5 years. This is a fair effort.
Earlier in my speech I related the tremendous percentage increase in the allocations to the States for road construction in each 5-year period. There have been several changes in the method of allocation to the States, but the formula of three-fifths as to population and two-fifths as to area remained much the same up to 1959 when the State Premiers, and no doubt the Prime Minister and the Treasurer of the day, decided to alter it to one-third as to population, one-third as to area and one-third as to motor vehicle registrations. In the period between 1923 and 1959 motor vehicles became part and parcel of our transport system and of the Australian economy and therefore some recognition in the form of money had to be given to the States to enable these motor vehicles to travel between various points.
The honourable member for Watson (Mr Cope) mentioned that there is a tremendous amount of congestion in various cities. Nobody can deny that, particularly when strikes occur such as there are today, a tremendous amount of congestion is caused by motor vehicles in city and metropolitan areas. In 1964 I said that when I was in New York in 1943 for a particular purpose all motor vehicles that were not carrying passengers, in other words trucks and so on, were kept out of the city limits between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. In other words, a large and thriving city like New York found it possible to keep large trucking vehicles out of the city area between those hours. When I made a visit to New York in 1967 I noticed that there had been some alteration to those restrictions. I was told that the traffic inflow was controlled by the council of the city of New York and that there was a limitation on large vehicles entering Manhatten between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. I think it would be an act of statesmanship on the part of the lord mayors who came to the federal discussion on roads some years ago if they were to think more about limiting the entry of large vehicles into city areas during the active period of the day. We all are aware of the congestion that takes place in city areas, particularly in Melbourne where we have the little streets, because of small trucks delivering tobacco supplies at one place, chocolate further up the same street and stockings, or panty hose as they are now called, at another point. Such vehicles are responsible for holding up the traffic which would normally pass through these small streets.
As the honourable member for Newcastle said, there is no relation between the revenue collected from customs and excise duty on petrol and the sum that is granted to the States by the Commonwealth. He did admit that when his Party was in power - it was so long ago that few of us can remember when it was - the customs and excise revenue was paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund and it was then paid out of that Fund to the States by way of Commonwealth aid roads grants. I think honourable members would find it interest ing to know the history of how these Commonwealth aid roads grants have been increased since 1923. Table 52 on page 91 of the report of the Commonwealth’s payments to or for the States is a very interesting one. I have ascertained that between 1923 and 1950- which is 27 years- the Commonwealth paid to the States a total of $158m, or less than $6m a year. In the 14 years between 1950 and 1964 the Commonwealth Government allocated $928m in this form. In other words the sum of $6m per year for the previous 27 years had been increased to S66m per year. The honourable member for Barton (Mr Arthur) said that this was fantastic. I will1 surprise him with the following information: In the next 5 years up to 1974 the Government will allocate to the States $ 1,250m which is a rate of S250m a year. Whereas the allocation to the States was $6m a year up to 1950, it is now to be $250m a year.
I feel that since the Premiers Conference was held on 13th March last the State Premiers should accept the fact that this Government is endeavouring to do something about their State problems and about national problems. As the Treasurer has said on many occasions the Government stands for a fully employed economy and as the national government it must ensure that resources are allocated in a reasonable manner so that the economy and the work force is fully employed. Any honourable member on this side of the House, or indeed on the other side of the House, when looking at the unemployment figures announced this morning, which show a level of unemployment of less than 1%, must realise that whatever has been happening within the Labor Party this Government has been receiving first class Treasury guidance. The work of this Government since 1949 is on record and I can only use two words to describe it - par excellence. This is despite some of the controversy which has revolved around the Premiers Conference which was held in 1964 and more particularly the one held this year. At the conclusion of the Premiers Conference held this year, when the Premier of Victoria went back to his State, the following headline appeared in an evening newspaper: ‘Sir Henry Bolte says motor vehicle registration will not be increased to motorists over the next 5 years’. I find it difficult to understand this sort of exercise by a responsible government. It may make nice headlines and it probably makes good reading. I would find it difficult to support the Federal Treasurer if he made a statement that there would be no rise in social services or that they would rise by 25% or some other figure that he may pick out of the hat. This is the way I see the type of headline that was given to Sir Henry Bolte’s statement that motor registrations would not be increased in Victoria in the next 5 years.
I am a great believer in those who collect the money taking the responsibility for spending it. I am a federalist to the bootstraps, if that is a good word. The State governments should take the responsibility for collecting the money that is spent in the States unless it is spent on such things as aviation, post offices and so on. Successive Federal Treasurers have taken the responsibility for collecting money and endeavouring to make an equitable allocation to the States for the various requirements of the States. We cannot accept the demands by the Stale Premiers. We cannot accept the demands mentioned by the honourable member for Watson for local government authorities. The local government authorities have made a good case for meeting the Commonwealth Government and for getting the Commonwealth Government to do something about their requirements by making more money available to be spent by local government bodies and shire councils. However, it should be said that there are at least 700 local government authorities throughout Australia. In their report they have mentioned the construction of aerodromes and wharves and the provision of fire relief, drought relief and the like.
Looking at some of the 700 local government authorities, 1 find that very few of them have to look after an aerodrome. I should have thought that those few which have an aerodrome in their municipality or shire would approach the Department of Civil Aviation and have the Department do something about it. Here again the Commonwealth would assess the position on a national basis and would endeavour to help the local government authority concerned. I find too from my own observations that many local government authorities are building libraries. 1 speak particularly about metropolitan areas. For example, the north ward may build a library. Then you find the
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councillors in the south, east and west wards trying to get back into the council at an election by promising that a library will be built in their ward. The same applies with swimming pools. This is the day of affluence and these things can be obtained by municipalities, but I am rapidly coming to the view that if councillors have to promise ratepayers libraries and swimming pools they will have to take the money from the ratepayers and not expect clerks in my electorate to pay for them when they are 500 miles away.
I have many clerks in my electorate who are very annoyed about the amount of taxation that we are paying as Commonwealth citizens. In fact, in a question I asked the Treasurer last week I pointed out that the rate of income tax in terms of gross national product bad increased from 30% in 1960 to 35% today. I do not take this figure out of thin air. I use as my backdrop for this information the Institute of Public Affairs. I say that economically we are in an explosive situation, and the clerks, bus drivers, accountants, engineers and so on in my electorate feel exactly the same as I do about paying these tremendously high rates of taxation. As soon as they get an increase in salary or wages they move into a new tax bracket and find that the increase is of very little use to them. It is all very well for the Commonwealth Government to say that it rests on the theory that increases in salaries and wages are the responsibility of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. We as a Government say to the Tariff Board: ‘This is Government policy’, and we thereby give it the means by which it should be able to present reports to the Parliament. We should use the same sort of emphasis with the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and say that people in Australia will not benefit if increases in wages are given to them under these conditions. Therefore, a good deal of additional thought should be given to these matters instead of my having to say to my bus drivers, clerks, accountants and engineers: ‘Thou shalt pay more money to local, State and Federal authorities in the form of tax’.
Taxation is a burden on all of us. We accept it, but we have now reached the stage where tax affects a person’s incentive to earn a higher income. I hope that
Treasury officials read this speech because we must not increase taxation in the future. Attempts must be made to reduce this burden on ordinary men and women. People earn money so that they can spend it themselves. They do not earn money to give it to governments so that governments can make roads, but they will accept that a certain proportion of it can be spent by governments. I say that 35% is far too high. It was not my intention to talk about taxation, but this Bill provides for a Commonwealth aid roads grant. It will be seen when looking through the legislation, and certainly when looking through the Treasurer’s second reading speech, that in the past the legislation has provided that 40% of the grant be for country roads. It was realised that this amount was too high. In other words, a sufficiently high amount was not being allocated to the city and metropolitan areas where the bulk of the people live, where the bulk of the taxpayers live and where the bulk of the people who use roads live.
Under this legislation there will be a tendency in the next quinquennium - I hope the tendency will grow in future quinquenniums - to make sure that most money is spent in areas where the bulk of the taxpayers live. The people who use the roads are being taxed more and more heavily. As 1 said earlier, if we take the money from the people it is our responsibility to make sure that they can use their motor cars in a satisfactory way and that they can use them with comfort and safety.
The honourable member for Newcastle talked about accident rates. I do not have any figures on this but I do have impressions. It is my impression that the roads which have been built for current needs in Australia are really good roads. I have travelled in many countries throughout the world. But one factor overlooked by the honourable member for Newcastle is the human factor. Unless something is done about the human factor we will continue to have slaughter on the roads. Thirteen people died as a result of motor car accidents in Victoria over the weekend. It is the responsibility of governments, particularly State governments, to do a good deal more than is being done right now. State governments must concentrate on safety factors and try to establish why these accidents are taking place. More than 50% of accidents take place on good roads in country areas. It is practically impossible for State governments to do much about this situation because it is hard to correlate the results of accidents with the causes of accidents. But the State governments have a responsibility. Dr Birrell in Victoria has a lot of information on this matter of safety that could usefully be used by the State governments.
As I said, more money will be spent on metropolitan roads in the next 5 years. It is very essential that this move should have been made. I congratulate the Government for making it. In the short time available to me I would also like to mention that the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads has done a tenacious job over the past 3 or 4 years. I am told by the Press, certainly not by the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair), that the Bureau has spent $2m in that period. I cannot possibly assess from the report of the Bureau how that $2m has been spent, because we have not been able to get this information. But the report is well worth reading. The information contained in it is well documented. It refers to areas in which money should be spent in the future. It mentions toll roads and research. These things are important from the point of view of this Commonwealth Parliament when we stand up here and assist the Treasurer to pass an appropriation of $l,252m for use by the States. These amounts are getting so high that if the trend continues the time must come when our Public Accounts Committee must go into the States to see how this money is spent. After all, that Committee works on behalf of this Government; it is an arm of, or an aid to, government.
It is not appropriate at this stage to refer to the amount spent per mile on roads in the various States, but I know that the variations from State to State are fantastic. In other words, in some States the money is spent more efficiently than in others. In some States administrative costs in road construction are considerably higher than in other States. If we continue to spend these large sums of money on roads - these amounts are the largest public works expenditures in the States - we will have to do something about sending the Public Accounts Committee into the States to investigate on behalf of the people whom we tax for the money. I know that such a proposal would cause an uproar, but I would repeat the point I made earlier: Those governments which collect the money have some responsibility for spending it. In other words, I am a tremendous believer in federalism. If the States continue to insist that the Commonwealth take over these responsibilities they must pay the penalty of ensuring that the Commonwealth reports back to its taxpayers.
– I support the amendment moved by the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones), which is in these terms:
That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in r’ ce thereof: This House, white not opposing the Bill, regrets the Government’s continuing refusal to plan expenditure of an amount ..t least equivalent to the proceeds of all the automotive fuel taxes on roads and associated facilities.’
Notwithstanding that this Bill provides financial assistance to the States for purposes of road construction the Commonwealth is not doing enough to solve Australia’s transport problem. Australia ranks eleventh in the world’s trading nations. Transport costs are important to our overseas trade. These costs are exceptionally heavy in this country. The business of moving people and goods within Australia accounts for about 25% of the national income and employs about one-sixth of our work force. In Canada about 9% of the national income is devoted to this purpose and in the United States about 10%. It is inevitable that transport costs in Australia will be high having regard to the fact that Australia is about the same size as the United States but has a population of only 12 million people compared with America’s population of 190 million people. However, this is no reason why transportation should account for 25% of our national income compared with only 10% in the United States.
We need to achieve the greatest efficiency and economy possible. To do this the Government should be developing a national transport system which will cater for future development. The Government must coordinate all forms of transport so that the most economical use is made of each means. This suggestion was put forward by the honourable member for Newcastle. We must see that each means of transport supplements rather than competes with other means of transport. The national plan should take into account future road, rail, air and shipping services so that each service fits into a plan as traffic grows with development. The only body which can initiate this national plan is the Commonwealth Government. It controls shipping and air transport. By agreement with the States it has been playing a part in the construction of railways. Under this Bill it makes grants to the States for roads.
Water transport is the cheapest means of transport. Use of ships should be encouraged for long hauls of large tonnages. It is a sad fact that our inefficient ports are administered by 26 different authorities. The next cheapest form of transport is rail transport. Our railways are being used to the maximum, yet railway deficits continue to increase. By spending more on roads we divert traffic from the railways. Rail standardisation needs to be accelerated and extended. The railways need modernising. Some railways are being modernised but much more is needed in this direction. Full use should be made of our railways for suburban traffic to relieve the pressure on our roads. City traffic is getting heavier and is being handled increasingly by omnibuses and motor oars. Traffic congestion, delays and parking problems increase as the number of motor cars on the roads increases. The major cities of some other countries have had to resort to mass transportation by rapid transit systems. Some cities have gone underground to provide transport. Some have adopted the monorail system.
The condition of our roads, having regard to the amount of traffic they carry, is revealed in our shocking road safety record, which was referred to by the honourable member for Balaclava (Mr Whittorn). Although Australia ranks third after the United States and New Zealand in the number of motor vehicles per head of population, our safety record is worse than the safety records of those countries. In 1966 the death rate on the roads for every 10,000 vehicles registered was 5.2 persons in New Zealand, 5.5 persons in the United States, 6.1 persons in the United Kingdom, 7.2 persons in Canada and 8.1 persons in Australia. New Zealand and the United States have a greater density of motor vehicles than Australia but they have a lower fatal accident rate. The state of our roads must have some bearing on our fatality rate. All of the money collected in fuel tax should be earmarked for roads.
The original Commonweatlh Aid Roads Act was passed in 1926 and from time to time the Act has been amended. From 1926 to 1968 the Commonwealth collected by way of petrol tax and automotive diesel fuel tax more than $2,600m. Over the same period less than $ 1,728m was allocated to the States. The Commonwealth has retained in Consolidated Revenue over that period $903,401,000. If the amount placed in consolidated revenue had been used for roads we would not be in the fix we are in today. All fuel taxes should be earmarked for roads and associated facilities. The governments of Japan, Sweden, New Zealand and the United States spend all of their fuel taxes on their road systems. The United States Government passed the Federal Highways Act in 1956, which created a Federal Highway Trust Fund into which were deposited receipts from fuel taxes, including petrol taxes levied on highway users. It is estimated that since the Second World War only about one-third of the capital spent on roads in the United States has come from taxation. The remaining two thirds has been borrowed. The result is that America has the best roads in the world.
As the honourable member for Newcastle has pointed out, customs and excise duties collected on petrol and diesel fuel between 1969-70 and 1973-74 will yield $314m more than the $l,252m allocated under this Bill if we accept the figure of 5% as being the average annual increase in the collection of those duties. If we accept the figure of 8% as being the average annual increase in collections - this is the figure for the past 10 years - the surplus of customs and excise duties collected in those years over and above the amount of the allocation under this Bill will be $459m. At least this amount should be spent on roads and associated facilities.
Motor car users contribute to other Commonwealth taxes. In the past 10 years sales tax on new motor cars has ranged from 30% to 25%. In 1967-68 sales tax on new motor cars yielded $140m. Other taxes include import duties on motor vehicles and parts and sales tax on commercial vehicles, motor cycles and parts.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– Mr Speaker, when the sitting was suspended, I was dealing with the amounts retained in Consolidated Revenue, from the automotive fuel tax, above the amount expended on roads since 1926. The amount that had actually been placed in Consolidated Revenue was over £900m. In our view this amount at least should be expended on roads and on associated facilities. I was dealing also with the other Commonwealth taxes on motor car users. I drew attention to the fact that during the past 10 years the sales tax on new cars had varied from 30% to 25%. The amount collected by this tax in 1967- 68 was $140m. Then, there is the duty on imports of motor vehicles and parts and the sales tax on commercial vehicles, motor cycles and parts. All of these are additional charges on the road user.
Australian has one motor vehicle for every 2.6 persons. Road construction and maintenance have to do more than keep pace with the increase in the use of motor vehicles. They have to pick up the backlog. Congestion of traffic reduces speed and increases petrol consumption. A United Kingdom survey estimated that when the speed of traffic is reduced to 10 miles an hour by congestion petrol consumption increases by about 50%. In addition, the wastage of tyres, mechanical parts and manpower is an important factor to be taken into account. It has been estimated that running loss due to inferior roads in Australia is approximately $2m per day.
I suggested earlier in the debate that the Commonwealth Government should have a national approach to our transport problems. It has a narrow approach rather than a national one, at the present time. Take the attitude of the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) in reply to a question that I asked him relative to providing funds for the sealing of the Eyre Highway. He told me that ‘the responsibility for the construction and maintenance of roads is constitutionally a responsibility of the States’. He meant that they had to carry on with the Highway out of the grants that had been provided already. The total length of the unsealed section of the Eyre Highway is 361 miles. Of this, 50 miles lies in Western Australia and 311 miles in South Australia. A request had been made earlier by the South Australian Government for $6m over a 6-year period for the sealing of that section of the highway within the South Australian border. The South Australian request was supported by Western Australia and by the Australian Tourist Ministers Conference. Anyone who says this is the responsibility of South Australia takes a very narrow view. Cars from all States use this Highway and I suppose that only a very small proportion of them would come from South Australia. The refusal by the Commonwealth means that the section in Western Australia will be completed by September 1969 but that the South Australian section will be sealed only as far as Penong by 1973. Goodness knows when the rest of it will be finished.
The Commonwealth recognised the importance of the Eyre Highway during the war years when it financed the construction and also it had contributed to its maintenance since 1947. But it will not bear any of the financial burden of sealing it. It leaves that to the States. This road is an important one for tourist traffic and for defence purposes. It is unfortunate that due to the narrow outlook of this Government the only section of the 1,702 miles of this Highway stretching from Adelaide to Perth to remain unsealed will be the 311-mile stretch that lies within the border of South Australia.
The Treasurer said in his second reading speech:
Provision is made in the Bill to require each State Government to increase its expenditure on roads from its own resources at the rate at which motor vehicles on register in the State increase.
Premier Brand of Western Australia, through his own fault, has been placed in the position of having to call a special 1-day session of State Parliament in order to comply with that requirement. Western Australia is the only State where local authorities in country areas have the power to control their own traffic licence fees. Some time ago, an inter-departmental committee - I am speaking about Western
Australia now - recommended that the Police Department be given State-wide control in this matter. This recommendation was not accepted by the State Government. It was another instance of the Country Party tail wagging the Liberal Party dog. The provision laid down in this Act has forced the Western Australian Government to act on this matter.
The Premier of the State from which I come did not put as solid a case as he could have done in support of Western Australia receiving a better deal at the recent meeting held between the State Premiers and the Prime Minister on road grants. The Premier of Western Australia should have joined with the Premiers of Tasmania and South Australia in their strong protests at the amount allocated and at the way in which it was allocated. Compared with the existing formula, the Western Australian share of the total $ 1,252m for the national roads allocation will drop from 18% of the total to about 16% of the total. If it had not been for the $40.8ro supplementary grant, Western Australia would have been in an impossible position in regard to its roads, that is, if the report of the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads had been carried out to the full.
The total amount to be received for roads in Western Australia during the next 5 years will be $200.4m. This is about a 50% increase on that granted in the past 5 years. But it is pretty poor when compared with the increase of 82% to New South Wales and over 73% to Victoria. The old formula that has been abandoned was based on population, vehicle registrations and area. The area content, for all practical purposes, has gone by the board and this is where Western Australia has gone back and will go back further in the future under this new formula unless some supplementary grants are continued as they have been continued as a matter of fact in this Bill.
Referring to supplementary grants, the Treasurer pointed out that to adopt the report of the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads would have been ‘too abrupt and too drastic’. He pointed out that Western Australia would have received only SI 60m which was less than 20% more than it received in the current 5-year agreement.
This is the 5-year period that is just finishing. South Australia would have received about 40% more. The Treasurer said:
The Commonwealth proposes, as a transitional arrangement, to provide supplementary grants to these States, which would be phased out.
This clearly indicates that it is the intention of the Government - that is if it remains in office - to ignore the special features associated with a developing State the size of Western Australia. I am not complaining about the amounts that the States of New South Wales and Victoria received. I do believe that at least the whole of the fuel tax should have been made available for roads. This would have enabled more to be done in the developing States.
The State of Western Australia is faced with the task of developing one-third of Australia, nearly 1 million square miles. The honourable member for Canning (Mr Hallett) mentioned this during the course of his address to the House. The provision of adequate roads is a formidable task because of the vast distances to be covered. With an area of 976,000 square miles - one third of the area of the nation - the road system extends from Eucla in the southeastern division to Wyndham, which is 3,000 miles away in the far north. As Western Australia is still passing through a developmental phase it is faced with the important task of providing a road system for opening up new land areas.
In the 14-year period 1952-1966, about 7,851,000 acres of new land were alienated. This meant an extension of the road system. About 800 miles of railway have been closed in recent years and traffic has been directed to roads serving agricultural, forest and pastoral areas. This has placed a burden on the road system. In the northern area there are almost half a million square miles without rail communications except for the new iron ore railway. As the honourable member for Canning mentioned, there is not one government railway line in the north of Australia. There was a line at one time - it has been closed down - running from Port Hedland to Marble Bar. As I said, the only railway line that exists in the area now is the line that was built for the iron ore project. So roads are of major importance in serving the scattered mining and pastoral settle ments. I do not think that these facts have been given sufficient consideration in the allocation of the amounts provided for roads for the next 5 years.
In Victoria most centres are close to the railways and few are more than 30 miles from a railway. In each 1,000 square miles of country Western Australia has only 5 miles of railway as compared with 46 miles in Victoria. The area of Western Australia is eleven times that of Victoria and three times that of New South Wales. In Western Australia there are 109,180 miles of roads, of which 11,386 miles are principal roads. The ratio of mileage of roads to each 100 square miles is 11, which is lower than in any other State. In Victoria, for instance, it is 106 miles of road to each 100 square miles. This information is contained in table 2 on page 53 of the publication ‘Australian Roads’. The same publication indicates that in Western Australia there are 8 persons per mile of road compared with 33 in Victoria. Despite the huge overseas trading surplus of $l,666.9m in Western Australia during the 10 years ended 1967- 68 there was an interstate trading deficit of $2,33 1.6m. Imports into Western Australia from the eastern States amounted to $3,325.7m, and exports to the eastern States amounted to $994. lm. Western Australia now buys almost $400m worth of goods annually from the eastern States. If Western Australia did not have such i big surplus of export earnings it could not buy so much from the eastern States. This in turn would affect development in the eastern States. The same argument applies also to Queensland, which has a huge overseas trading surplus.
It is clear that if it were not for the overseas export of minerals, wheat, wool and beef from Western Australia and Queensland the high level of imports into New South Wales and Victoria could not be sustained. The honourable member for Canning drew attention to the export of minerals from Western Australia and mentioned how it was assisting the economy of Australia as a whole. I emphasise the point that special consideration should be given by way of road grants to the developing State of Western Australia. The two States that are earning export surpluses for Australia are Queensland and Western Australia. In the 10 years ended 1967-68 Queensland and Western Australia earned a total overseas trading surplus of over $4,470m. In the same period New South Wales and Victoria had a total overseas trading deficit of over $5,744m. These export surpluses are swallowed up by the deficits in export trading in New South Wales and Victoria. These two States have a high level of imports for expansion of their industries and the export earning surpluses of Queensland and Western Australia assist in the expansion of industrial growth and employment in New South Wales and Victoria. Again let me emphasise that I am not objecting to the amount of funds for roads allocated to those States: What I am saying is that at least the whole of the proceeds from all fuel taxes should be made available for roads. This would enable a greater allocation of the amount kept in Consolidated Revenue to be made available to the developing States and for other purposes associated with roads.
Debate (on motion by Mr Lee) adjourned.
– Is leave granted?
– We grant leave, but I shall ask for leave to make a statement afterwards.
– That will be another question. Leave is granted.
– I wish to inform the House that two cheques were received today by the Deputy Industrial Registrar in Victoria for $8,100 and $500 respectively. The larger cheque was in payment of fines due by the Tramway and Motor Omnibus Employees Association and the smaller cheque was in payment of a fine due by Mr O’Shea. I have now received information that these two cheques have been cleared. In these circumstances I have given instructions for an application to be made to the Industrial Court to discharge the order against Mr O’Shea for his examination and for production of the union’s books. The question of his release will then be a matter for the Court. It is understood that this application will be heard in the Industrial Court by Mr Justice Kerr at 10.30 tomorrow morning. My colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) and I will be continuing with our discussions with officers of the Australian Council of Trade Unions.
– Mr Speaker, I ask for leave to make a statement.
– Is leave granted?
– Leave is not granted.
– I am sure we are very pleased to hear the news disclosed by the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen), but I suppose I cannot comment any further. We have another very important matter to discuss. Naturally I should like to have said a few words about the matter referred to by the Attorney-General just as would members of the Opposition, but I must keep myself to the subject matter of the Bill. The Commonwealth Bureau of Roads has recommended that the Commonwealth Government should continue to provide finance which, with amounts provided by the States and by local government, will enable the implementation of the Commonwealth road programme up to 1974. The programme will yield an economic rate of return. In other words, costs and benefits were compared. The costs considered were for construction, reconstruction, property acquisition and maintenance. The benefits (considered were the community benefits arising from reduced time of travel, vehicle operating costs and reduced numbers of accidents. Savings in private time were included as well as savings in commercial time.
I think it is right to say that it is very encouraging to see this trend in the spending of taxpayers’ money. No longer are we considering roads in a piecemeal fashion with little regard to traffic density. At last we are saying to ourselves: ‘Where will the community get the most benefit? Where will we receive the most value by way of return for each dollar expended?’ This approach to expenditure on road problems is a great step forward, and the Government has accepted this recommendation with the proviso that there will be some modification to prevent a reduction of spending in the more outlying areas. [Quorum formed.] lt is encouraging to see Labor members entering the chamber to hear my speech. I am glad that an honourable member opposite was good enough to draw attention to the state of the House. The particular problems of these regions where distances are very great and traffic density is light will be overcome by supplementary grants to relieve the problems.
I should like to pay a tribute to the municipal engineers and their staff in country areas, particularly in the more scattered parts of Australia. In recent years they have performed a remarkable job on rural roads throughout Australia. These men take great pride in their work, and the considerable improvements in country roads have been the fruits of their labour. In order to assess the adequacy of the Australian road system it was necessary to carry out a large survey in 1967 and 1968. This survey threw a lot of pressure on the staffs employed by local councils. City and shire engineers had to go into this matter in great detail. The result was a very full survey on roads built and maintained with public funds, that is, with Commonwealth money, State money and money obtained from rates. This survey entailed a great deal of work for city and shire engineers and their staffs in country districts. This major effort was needed to provide the basic information for the comprehensive report which has been made available through the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads.
The survey has disclosed that the vast sum of $7,852m based on 1967 prices will be needed for road construction between July this year and June 1974. The Bureau has recommended that the Commonwealth aid roads grant be $1,280m over this period, commencing with Si 96m in 1969-70, and rising to $316m in 1973- 74. So honourable members can see that there will be a great deal more work on city and country roads in the next few years. Indeed, I think it will be quite difficult to gear the programmes in order to spend this money. The Bureau of Roads has made some effort to define the different types of roads which make up the road network throughout Australia. There are: (a) the principal rural roads, mainly, 1 think, main highways and arterial roads running into cities and through country towns - the general highway system; (b) other rural roads - main roads of lesser importance; (c) city and provincial city roads, comprising city freeways and major access roads to the suburbs and beyond; and (d) other roads not covered by these former groups.
The Bureau has recommended that the Commonwealth aid roads grant be divided among the above categories, the first to receive 20%, the second 20%, the third 40% and the fourth 18.8%. The remaining 1.2% of the money is to be used for planning and research, which is a very important matter. No longer can we afford to have bridges built in wrong places or to use materials which do not stand up to the wear and tear of traffic and to the weather. No longer can we tolerate insufficient vision in our road making. No longer can we put down a road in the wrong place and have to tear it up again within a few years. We face a period now in our highways development which was faced last century in the building of our railways. We must build freeways. We must also build dual highway systems. We cannot fiddle with the job any longer. We must build roads particularly in areas in which the investment of money will return adequate value to business houses and to the private individual as he travels, whether it be in the city or in the country. In a developing country time has become a very important commodity. We can no longer afford to have traffic jammed at intersections. We cannot afford to have roads which are narrow and contribute to accident rates. We must try to foresee the problems of tomorrow. Research is a very important facet in the road building programme. The Bureau has acknowledged that the new types of road systems will be more difficult to plan, design and construct than traditional roads.
Over the years the Victorian Country Roads Board has done a good deal of research which has shown up in the quality of the highways and bridges within the State of Victoria. I can be rightly proud to come from Victoria which has very good highway systems running throughout the State. Vast sums are now becoming available which will help Australia to overtake some of the systems in the more developed countries. I have been assured that there is a full exchange of information between the various research establishments in each State through the Australian Road Research Board and the National Association of Australian State Road Authorities. I know that the Victorian Country Roads Board has wrestled with great problems since it inherited the worn out system of roads and bridges which was suitable for horsedrawn traffic.
I think the Country Roads Board in Victoria was established in 1913 when roads apparently were greatly undeveloped. At that time the Hume Highway was probably no more than a rough track. Great strides have been made in recent years and the results of research are now being shown in the improved road systems. From the early 1920s when a laboratory was set up in conjunction with the University of Melbourne this work has developed. In 1963 the research staff moved into a modern laboratory building which was established adjacent to the Board’s office at Kew. One can well imagine the necessity for research into such matters as the location of deposits of road making material and the need to be able to check the depth and the hardness of rock.
In recent years the CRB has established a metallurgical laboratory for the complete metallurgical investigation of steel used in bridges, in parts of mechanical plant and in the welding characteristics of new types of steel. In Victoria the CRB is using an electronic recording device called a roughometer. The CRB is also able to measure the slipperiness and strength of pavements and of course, there is constant research into traffic line paints, bituminous products, reflective signs and many other important matters. I am sure that the benefits of the research carried out by this organisation are being circulated to other road making authorities throughout Australia. No doubt, other States are reaping some of the benefits of what has been done in Victoria as, of course, Victoria is taking advantage of what is happening in other States such as New South Wales. Victoria is also receiving a good deal of information from overseas, particularly from America whence we seem to be adopting our road patterns. 1 happen to live right on the Hume Highway which is one of the main arterial roads in Australia. Day and night there is a huge volume of commercial and private traffic moving along this Highway. There is no doubt that we could well do with a divided highway all the way from Melbourne to Sydney. There have been great numbers of distressing accidents along this Highway. Many of the accidents have been head-on collisions which would have been avoided if the Highway had been divided. It is essential that the Highway be divided as far as the junction with the Goulburn Valley Highway north of Seymour as soon as possible. The Calder Highway also needs improvements because this is the main link between the cities of Bendigo and Melbourne. For the amount of traffic involved this Highway has to climb around a good many hills when it would be much more economical and more safe to travel through them. The Mount Macedon and Gisborne areas will progress considerably when the Tullamarine Airport is opened. But the Calder Highway will not be able adequately to cater for the traffic. Some of the increasing funds must go into these two highways which are becoming more and more important each day.
So far as the surrounds of Melbourne are concerned, country people will benefit by the additional funds being made available for city access roads. Some disappointment, of course, is apparent because the increase in funds available for the smaller country roads is not as great as the funds made available for access roads to the big cities. But T would point out that although I would have liked to see a larger increase in this direction, country people will benefit by being able to use access roads in the big cities and also in the provincial cities. People living in the country areas to the north and west of Melbourne will find access to the city much improved within the next few years. People from the western districts, from Geelong and from Werribee no doubt will make great use of the Lower Yarra Freeway and people from along the Hume Highway and from the cities of Bendigo and Castlemaine and Kyneton, Woodend, Gisborne and other towns to the north such as Seymour, Lancefield and Romsey will undoubtedly take advantage of the Tullamarine Freeway as they come south.
I am sure that a good deal of the traffic will come to the freeway near Glenroy and will move in quickly to the city that way. I think it is unfortunate that some of the roads may be in some difficulty in that area in coping with the traffic that will want to get on and off the freeway. I am glad to see the Government taking an interest in roads, if only because of the road accident problem. Some 3,249 persons - a tragic number - were killed in motor accidents in Australia in 1967-68. This is a tremendous number of people to be killed on the roads in one year. It is an average of almost nine people per day. We can no longer afford this high accident rate. A large number of those involved are young people. The loss of human life is the main problem; the next is the harm done to the bodies and minds of those who continue to live.
In a recent copy of the ‘Age’ dated 9th April it is reported that eighty-one people died on Australian roads over Easter. The article said:
Australia’s Easter weekend road toll stood at 81 dead last night, 24 more than last year.
Of course, apart from the deaths and the great injuries that are caused by road accidents there are other heavy costs. Some are borne by the individual and others by the community. I have been very interested in some details which appeared in the March newsletter of the Australian Automobile Association. Apart from the human problem concerning deaths and injuries, the Association considers that a sum approaching $225m per annum in potential income is forgone by those who die on the roads. It has been further estimated, if allowance is made for the cost of injuries and damage to vehicles, that the cost could have been between $550m and $775m during the year 1966-67. That, of course, takes into account what many young people could have done during their lifetime.
– Who said that?
– This is a very great loss to Australia. This was stated by the Australian Automobile Association in a recent letter.
There are now about 4i million vehicles on Australian roads. Registrations are approaching 500,000 a year and many families have two cars. What of the future? Vehicles are becoming faster and easier to drive. Surely we are concerned about these trends. I think one day we will have to take this matter up very seriously with motor vehicle manufacturers.
– You are not exactly being alerted now.
– I think we will need to be more concerned with them. Does the honourable member not think that this is a serious matter?
– I think you are treating it very seriously.
– I am. Surely we are concerned about these trends. Do we remain unconcerned until we come face to face with the problem of accidents within our own family and within our own circle of friends? What about other costs - the damage to public property; the necessity to provide more and more police patrols; the time involved for the legal profession, witnesses and policemen to attend courts; and the large number of hospital beds and hospital stall required to handle the victims of road accidents? There are very many side effects to road accidents.
I believe that the public will have to accept more restrictions on the way it drives. If this problem is to be solved I believe the public will have to accept some restriction on its freedom to drive speedy cars and to drink while driving. But one thing is sure to me: The provision of divided highways will be a great step forward in the fight against head-on collisions. One of the most heart rending types of accidents on our roads are head-on collisions. I know of a case where a family travelling to Melbourne was involved in a collision. This happened a few years ago. Every child in the family was killed and the mother and father were seriously injured by a reckless driver in another car. Through no fault of the parents the whole of their family were killed. The parents were left crippled, one of them for life. The Australian Medical Association has had something to say about this matter. I do not have a copy of the Association’s report but I think it wo;:-d be well worth the study of the department concerned.
I have here a publication produced by the Australian Automobile Association, and 1 would like to read from it an open letter which was sent recently to the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) by the President of the Association, Sir Norman Nock. The letter reads:
This Association, of which I have the honour to be President, represents through its constituent organisations some two million Australian private motorists.
For many years we have been concerned at the steady deterioration of the Australian road system in relation to the demands made upon it. For years we have felt that responsibility for leadership in solving road problems lies primarily with the Commonwealth Government.
In fact there have been encouraging indications that your Government is accepting this responsibility; the establishment of the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads was an important forward step.
Now, with the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act about to expire, your Government has an opportunity to confirm this by adopting the principle of providing road finance on a basis of need.
This and other constructive points are mentioned briefly in this booklet. We offer them on behalf of the great body of Australian motorists as a contribution to your discussions with your colleagues.
Yours sincerely, Sir Norman Nock
– What did the Prime Minister say?
– I did not see the Prime Minister’s reply but I am sure that this legislation is an answer to this suggestion and I would think that the Government has gone a very long way towards meeting this request. In this document this organisation states:
Now is the time for a completely fresh approach to Australia’s road problems.
It goes on to say that Australia must have a national road policy and this is what the Government is leading up to. I believe that this legislation will give a lead to the States. It will be a great encouragement to the States. This legislation will inject more money into this field so that within the next few years we will have a very competent road system. According to this publication, Australia now has a death rate of 8.1 persons for every 10,000 vehicles registered. This compares unfavourably with other great motoring countries such as the United States, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Canada. This is a very great problem for all parents in Australia today and must be faced with determination by Governments, educational institutions and the public.
I know very many parents in our big cities have to stay up very late indeed until their young people arrive home. I consider it a great responsibility on the parents to see that their children are not tearing around in old bombs, as very many of them do. I know it is a great problem to discourage young people from driving. 1 do not think we should attempt to stop them altogether but they certainly need a lot of guidance in their late teenage years anc’ in their early twenties. The step of providing more funds for roads is but one step in the right direction. I congratulate the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) and the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) for putting forward this measure. They have gone a long way towards implementing the programme as envisaged by the Bureau which has recommended greatly increased grants for the improvement of the Australian roads system.
– The Opposition welcomes the increased vote for the building and maintenance of roads, but I join with the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) in supporting his amendment calling for the entire proceeds of fuel tax to be devoted to the construction and reconstruction of Australian roads. No one can say that the situation today is satisfactory. I have yet to hear one speaker on the Government side declare that he is satisfied with the road systems of Australia. It has been said by a number of speakers that better roads would help to overcome the serious problem of road accidents and the resultant appalling toll of death and destruction, the wastage of human life and the long periods which people suffer in hospital waiting to be restored to health to again join the work force of our country. The importance of good roads is accepted by all. Good roads are important to the economy for several reasons; for social considerations - the need for people in the country to travel to adjoining towns and villages, the educational needs of children attending country schools, in particular and for road safety. There should not be a conflict in regard to funds or how they should be distributed. There should be adequate funds for this important matter. Bad roads have caused the dislocation of trade, the wastage of motor vehicles, increased fuel demands which cost the people and this nation dearly and, as I have already said, the tragic toll of death and destruction on the road. These are matters we have to consider free from the disputation of party considerations. The national consideration should come first in a matter of this kind.
Australia’s transport problem is a great and grave one. We have a great island continent of 3 million square miles. This matter was referred to by the honourable member for Stirling (Mr Webb) when he was dealing with the problem of his own State of Western Australia. In New South Wales we have the case of the strangled city of Sydney. We also have the isolated handicapped rural areas where bad roads have cost this country dearly and have cost the economy of New South Wales at least $200m a year. This problem is something that ought to be dealt with immediately. There should be no reservation in finding the funds necessary for work of this kind for we must admit that good roads can help streamline the economy and overcome the problems of delay, waste and the usage of tyres and motor fuels. It is time the Government got its priorities straight. In my opinion transportation looms largely as one of the important questions facing this nation. We need people, we need water and we urgently need an improved transport system. How are we to get the latter? It can only come from increased votes by the Commonwealth for the purpose of developing our roads and for the construction of bridges to overcome the difficulties that face our people throughout the whole continent.
If there is one area in Australia that is perhaps suffering more as a result of this than other areas it is the countryside where the people are handicapped to a degree unheard of by many people in the metropolitan areas. The rising cost of road construction is becoming a crippling financial burden for our shire councils. These bodies find that they have taxed their ratepayers to the limit. They are unable to meet the spiralling costs of road construction and road maintenance. For this reason, therefore, the Commonwealth should give consideration to this urgent and imperative need. We have noted with dismay and great dissatisfaction that, rather than increase the vote for the countryside, this Government which professes to be concerned with the country has reduced the vote for rural roads from the 40% that it was under the old formula to some 32% by its calculations or 29% according to the Shires Association of New South Wales.
I intend to deal with that aspect later. For the moment I want to refer to the buoyancy of the revenue received by the Commonwealth and show that it has the capacity to make payments for the purposes I have mentioned. Let us look at the amounts collected by the Commonwealth from customs and excise on motor and diesel fuel from 1958-59 to 1968-69. The Commonwealth collected from this tax no less than ? 1,930m and gave to the States $1,33 lm, retaining for itself $598m. Surely this shows the buoyancy of revenue and proves that the Commonwealth has the funds and the opportunity to assist the States to meet the problems that face them in a manner that would be of benefit to all sections of the nation. Another source of Commonwealth revenue is sales tax on motor vehicles. From 1958-59 to 1967-68 the Commonwealth received $1,103,234,000 from sales tax levied on motor vehicles. Surely this shows that the Commonwealth has received the funds and that it has the money with which to do the job. We on this side of the House claim that the money should be made available for the purpose for which it is collected and that is to improve the road systems throughout Australia. No-one will deny the need for improved roads. This being so, it is imperative that the funds be provided.
The March issue of the ‘Federal News Letter’ of the Australian Automobile Association contains some illuminating information. lt shows that, for the 12 months ended 30th June 1968, net customs and excise duties collected on motor spirit amounted to S233,962,000 and net customs and excise duties collected on automotive diesel fuel amounted to $18,256,000 making a total of $252,218,000. Payments to the States under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act amounted to $160m and other Commonwealth payments to the States for roads amounted to $5,664,000, making a total of $165,664,000. The Commonwealth retained in Consolidated Revenue $86,554,000. We have established the need for better roads and we have established that the Commonwealth has collected the revenue. All that is necessary now is for the Commonwealth of Australia to show its goodwill by making available the funds that are needed for the construction and reconstruction of country roads. I know that this subject has been debated on many occasions and that it will be said that past governments have not made available the proceeds of the petrol tax for road construction and reconstruction. With that I agree. When these levies were first introduced, it was agreed that the petrol tax, as it was called, would be made available for the construction of roads and the improvement of transport services. It has been noted previously that one of the States had set about to impose such a levy itself. This was said to be unconstitutional and the Commonwealth came in. At that time not only did the Commonwealth provide the entire proceeds of the tax for road construction but it made additional grants as well.
Over the years from 1926 to 1968, net customs and excise duties collected on petrol and automotive diesel fuel have amounted to $2,631,135,000. Allocations under the various Commonwealth Aid Road Acts to the States have amounted to $1,669,756,000 and for strategic roads and road safety $l8m, and other Commonwealth payments to the States for roads since 1959 have amounted to $39,978,000. These allocations total $1,727,734,000. The amount retained by the Commonwealth in Consolidated Revenue over this period is $903,401,000. Surely this rum of money should have found its way into improved road services. I leave this thought with some of my city friends: They ought to realise, if they do not now, that the wealth of this nation comes from the grass roots of our economic life, from the countryside, from the mines, from the farms and from the country towns. The wealth won in the country areas permeates and stimulates the economy and helps to make it tick and to provide the type of development that we so earnestly talk about. As this will be accepted by honourable members as they travel Australia during the next election campaign, they should admit now that funds should be made available to help the people in the country areas to overcome the hazards that always confront them when they travel on bad and unsealed roads. In the region whence I come, the central tablelands and the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, the shire councils have a particularly difficult task in trying to find funds to complete work on the roads and to seal roads. This is urgently needed in the mountainous area that I have the privilege and honour to represent. But not only should the Commonwealth do more; the States also have a responsibility to do more. 1 have here a list of the motor registration fees and taxes in the States and Territories. In the Australian Capital Territory the tax on a Holden is $17.50 a year, on a Chrysler Valiant $18.90 and on a Ford Falcon $18.20. In the Northern Territory it is $14.0 on a Holden, $15.12 on a Chrysler Valiant and $14.56 on a Ford Falcon. In New South Wales it is $22.50 on a Holden, on a Chrysler Valiant it is $24.30 and on a Ford Falcon it is $23.40, with an additional motor registration fee of $3 and stamp duty of 40c per $100 value in each instance. In Victoria the rate is $31.38 for a Holden, $32.82 for a Chrysler Valiant and $35.10 for a Ford Falcon. In Queensland it is $34 for a Holden, $35.55 for a Chrysler Valiant and $38.02 for a Ford Falcon. A stamp duty of $1 for each $100 of value is also levied. In South Australia it is $36 for a Holden, $36 for a Chrysler Valiant and $40 for a Ford Falcon. A stamp duty of $1 is payable for every $100 of value. In Western Australia it is $29 for a Holden, $31 for a Chrysler Valiant and $30 for a Ford Falcon. In Tasmania it is $27.20 for a Holden, $28.44 for a Chrysler Valiant and $30.42 for a Ford Falcon. In addition to motor taxes in Tasmania, a registration fee of $3 is payable,
These charges indicate that the States are getting their share of a rich reward from a burden borne by motorists throughout Australia. It may be said that the people in the country areas of Australia can afford these charges. Recently I made some research into the earnings of people in the country who pay taxes, particularly those in rural areas. In a paper prepared by Mr Mauldon, Senior Lecturer in Farm Management, University of Western Australia, figures made available by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics confirmed that 80,000 farmers received net farm incomes of less than $2,000 a year. These figures are appalling and depressing. Additional figures were made available to show the income derived by people in primary pursuits. Yet these country people will be called upon by shire councils to find additional funds because the councils will not be receiving the amount of money necessary for them to go on with the class of work that they would like to proceed with. Because of the obvious demand for roads no money is available in these country centres for welfare programmes, recreational facilities, libraries, community halls and so on. These are very necessary amenities in country centres. The people in country areas will be called upon to meet additional burdens because of the failure of this Government to maintain the requirement that 40% of the total grant be applied to rural roads.
A supplementary report on a national survey by the Shires Association of New South Wales shows the need for roads and bridges in that State to be a total of $538,613,000. The shires’ survey put this figure at. $708,127,000. The present level of expenditure is $27m annually but the average need as shown by the national survey is $53.9m. The shire survey shows that $70. 8m is required. When one looks at the statistics for unsealed roads and at the extent to which roads in the country need attention, these figures can easily be understood. In the supplementary report the following is reported:
On the basis of the information provided by 103 shire councils, we have ascertained that the total mileage, as at 31st December ‘1968, of shire roads, was 58/819 but of these, 51.678 or 87.9% were unsealed.
This is a disgraceful state of affairs. It is a shocking and disturbing revelation of the condition of country roads. This matter has gone unheeded by the Commonwealth Government. Surely these figures make the Government realise the urgent need to get on with providing the funds which are so necessary for the sealing of our country roads. Surely the people in country areas are just as entitled to sealed roads as are people in any other part of Australia. On the figures available there is a total main roads mileage of 15,766 of which 7,131 miles are unsealed and 8,635 are sealed. On a percentage basis 54.8% of the main roads are sealed and 45.2% are unsealed. Of the shire roads 12.1% are sealed and 87.9% are unsealed. Instead of providing additional funds to help the country people to deal with this shocking and worrying problem the Commonwealth Government has reduced the percentage that will be made available.
The cost burden on the country dweller and on the city dweller is known. No-one begrudges the fact that funds are to be made available to overcome the bottleneck of a sprawling city which has been allowed to develop regardless of the needs and proper and wise town planning. We know that this has to be cleaned up and we know that there have to be expressways, but these things should not be done at the expense of the people in the country districts. I carry the torch for the people in the country districts who bear the economic burden of this country. We should not allow ourselves to be dragged along by the heels and to say that if the city cleans up its problem the country people must be neglected. I do not stand for that at all. I am concerned that the Commonwealth Government not only has failed to do the right thing in this matter but, even worse, that it has repudiated a promise made by the Treasurer to the people in the country. There was a time when the views and words of the Treasurer might have been accepted. On 31st August 1967 I asked the Treasurer this question.
I ask the Treasurer a question. Because of the importance of maintaining and upgrading country roads throughout Australia, will he assure the House that the distribution of the Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement funds will not be disturbed to the detriment of our country development and districts? In view of the increased receipts from petrol tax, is the Treasurer in a position to announce a considerably increased vote for road construction and reconstruction this year and during the next 2 years?
The Treasurer replied:
The House will be aware that the current Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement continues for a period of over 5 years and that the agreement provides that there shall be a minimum proportion given for rural roads. There is no intention whatsoever on the part of this Government to attempt to change that proportion. It will remain as far as we are concerned. . . .
They are the words which were used by the Treasurer. Is it any wonder that the people in the country districts today refuse to believe the Treasurer? Is it any wonder that they will not accept his words? They quite rightly doubt, not only his words in regard to rural matters, but his words on other issues. 1 have received a number of communications expressing a wide variety of opinions about Government action on roads aid. I have received letters from shire associations, shire councils, county councils, city councils and rural organisations. All of these are most critical of the conduct of the Commonwealth in this matter. The Shires Association of New South Wales in its statement on the Commonwealth aid roads grants for the next 5 years refers to the distribution of fuel tax over the next 5 years as follows:
The shire councils representing the local government areas of New South Wales are most concerned, and they have a right to be concerned. The Upper Macquarie County Council has written to me and pointed out the same facts. Looking through the statements made by the Treasurer, one would think that he is doing the country a favour, despite the fact that he is repudiating a solemn promise made to the people of this country in answer to a question asked by me in the Parliament. It is not surprising that he refers to the high importance of roads from a national standpoint. Let us look at this matter clearly. He said in his statement on Commonwealth aid roads arrangements for the period 1969-70 to 1973-74:
We are, therefore, prepared to increase very considerably, under a new set of arrangements, the amount of Commonwealth financial assistance to the States for roads purposes. The new arrangements we have in mind aim to bring the distribution of Commonwealth assistance as between the States more closely into accord with relative needs for road expenditures, and to direct this assistance more specifically than in the past to the development of particular classes of roads that seem to us to have high importance from a national standpoint.
This is the same Treasurer who promised that he would maintain the allocation for road construction and reconstruction in rural areas at 40% of the total allocation. This attitude is contemptuous of the people of the country, of shire councillors, of aldermen and of people in shires who are working to try to develop the economy of this country. It is not surprising when one reads his statement to find that the country people come third in his consideration. We propose that the Commonwealth assistance should be provided specifically for construction and reconstruction of arterial and sub-arterial roads in urban areas, the construction and reconstruction of non-urban rural roads and the construction and reconstruction and the maintenance of other rural roads. The country people come third. They are just ahead of the scientific research section.
There is one way to solve this problem. The country areas are expected from their vote to be responsible for a section of main roads which hitherto formed part of the general State responsibility to finance and develop. They have additional burdens to handle with a smaller percentage of income. The case made by the shire councils throughout New South Wales is irrefutable. There are statements that should be answered. There is one way that they can be answered. The Government can either reconstruct its statement or, alternatively, provide more money from the petrol tax to meet the needs of our country districts. 1 have little faith that the Government will accept either of those courses. I believe that it has made up its mind that the country areas are to be sacrificed. This is not good enough, and I can only hope that the Parliament will take this opportunity given to it by the honourable member for Newcastle to instruct the Government to make available the total proceeds from petrol tax to be apportioned for road construction and reconstruction throughout the Commonwealth of Australia.
– This Commonwealth aid roads agreement for the next 5 years provides for an increase of $500m in allocations to the States. Whilst there are features of the increases in allocations for purely rural roads which, I think, do not give much cause for jubilation to local government bodies in rural areas, the picture is very different from the one that has been painted by the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti). No fair minded person could travel about Australia and say that there has not been an amazing improvement in roads almost everywhere in rural areas in the last decade and particularly in the last 5 years. This is very largely due to the aid for roads schemes as well as the grants made for the construction of beef roads. The total Commonwealth aid for rural roads for the next 5 years will be 5% more than the grant for the 5 years to 1 968-69. Under the previous Commonwealth aid roads grant 40% of the money was to be spent in rural areas. The present grant, which will be compounded over the next 5 years, will barely maintain the impetus that has been given to rural councils to build up their staff and equipment. It will do little more than that. Nevertheless it is very much better than the amount recommended by the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads and it is very much better than the original proposal by the Commonwealth.
Shire and municipal councils had in most cases in New South Wales geared themselves in anticipation of an increase in the amount of the grant. In a great many cases, the shire councils, particularly in outer areas, are among the main employers of labour. They also make great contributions to the better transport of goods produced by primary industries and they provide amenities for the people who live in rural areas. City dwellers almost always have reasonable access to some means of public transport, whereas people who live in the country are confined to their own means of locomotion. The shire councils in New South Wales are responsible for 82.2% of the length of the State’s roads, and 87.9% or 51,678 miles of those roads in 103 shires are unsealed. The classification of roads is something that has caused a good deal of confusion in the minds of people in many States. [Quorum formed.] I am grateful to the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) for directing attention to the state of the House. His presence in the chamber meant that there were 5 members of the Labor Party in the House. There were 4 in it before the honourable member for Reid entered.
I was saying that the classification of roads has caused a great deal of confusion in the minds of many people. We know that under the old formula the States had to spend 40% of funds provided under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act on roads that are now classified in New South Wales - I will devote my remarks to New South Wales - as class 4 and class 5 roads. The expenditure of the remaining 60% was at the discretion of the State. In New South Wales 80% of the remaining 60%- 48% of the total - was devoted to roads that are now classified as class 1, class 2 and class 3 - that is, main roads, trunk roads and highways. Of the SI04m spent on class 1. class 2 and class 3 roads $80m was provided under this legislation. Under the present scheme $63,870,000 must be devoted to class 1, class 2 and class 3 roads. This amount is $40, 1 30,000 less than was devoted to these roads previously. Some people are confused because the additional $40,130,000 was not allotted under this legislation; it was money which New South Wales chose of its own volition to spend on rural roads. Under this legislation New South Wales will spend on class 6 and class 7 roads - city roads - $2 !0m compared with the sum of S22m formerly allocated to these roads from Commonwealth Aid Roads funds. So here we see an increase of $188m. 1 am given to understand by an authoritative source that New South Wales legislation prevents the use on rural roads of more than a percentage of State money allocated to class 6 and class 7 roads. Surely it would be a simple thing to change the State legislation and provide more State money for class 1, class 2 and class 3 roads so that those roads may be maintained at the same rate as roads in classes 4 and 5 are maintained.
I was disturbed to hear the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) say In his second reading speech that the transfer of funds earmarked for one class of road to another class of road would be allowed only in exceptional circumstances. 1 hope that this proviso will be applied with reasonable leniency. If New South Wales does not have power to divert funds from one class of road to another it could mean that there will be a shortage of funds for roads in classes 1, 2 and 3. This would be a very serious matter in rural areas. The Bill also empowers the Minister to extend the time for expenditure of an annual allocation to 18 months or, in certain circumstances, longer. These are necessary points of flexibility in the legislation. Formerly the legislation was far too rigid. I agree with the honourable member for Canning (Mr Hallett) that the States should express more clearly than they do now the areas in which they intend to expend money on roads.
Several speakers tonight have said that the time is overdue for research into all forms of transport. They have urged greater co-ordination of transport. I fully support these submissions. Of the money spent on roads in the last 5-year period one-third came from money provided under this legislation, more than one-third from ratepayers and slightly less than one-third from State funds. This proportion will be altered in the next 5-year period. It is well that this should be so because rates in rural areas almost everywhere in Australia have reached saturation point. There can be no question but that people living in rural areas cannot meet any increase in the burden of costs without suffering serious financial embarrassment, lt is only wise from the point of view of justice that the allotment of funds to roads should be balanced proportionately between cities and rural areas, with added provision for rural roads; it is purely a basic economic problem. Reference was made to this matter in a letter published in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ on 20th March this year. The letter was written by Professor D. F. Orchard, Professor of Highway Engineering in the University of New South Wales. 1 do not think I can do better than read the letter. Professor Orchard wrote:
The mere building of expressways in our capital cities, while il might give temporary respite from traffic congestion, can only ultimately intensify the problem unless it is backed up by measures to prevent concentration of activity and therefore traffic. Such measures are decentralisation, the proper disposition of land use and control of tha intensity of development.
In this connection it is distressing to see tha headlong rush going on in the centre of Sydney at the moment to build more and more tall buildings and therefore large traffic generators. If this continues it will, even given elaborate expressways, result in incurable traffic congestion.
It is encouraging to see from your March 12 edition that the folly of this does appear to be recognised, but it is uncertain whether the imposition of a floor space index or ratio as high as six as mentioned will be really adequate.
May I emphasise once more that decentralisation, the need for which is so pressing, in order to improve urban traffic conditions, and in particular reduce the growth of Sydney, cannot be achieved unless adequate attention is paid to country roads. It is gratifying that Mr Askin (March 15) has promised that the State Government will supplement the Commonwealth funds available for country roads in New South Wales.
Several Opposition supporters have said that in their opinion all funds collected by the Commonwealth from the excise on fuel should be devoted to roads. They have claimed that in the period between 1926 and 1968 the Commonwealth collected in excise on fuel $900m more than it allocated to the States for expenditure on roads. In the complexity of taxation what honourable members opposite advocate is hardly practical. It was said by no less a person than a former Labor Prime Minister, the Honourable J. B. Chifley, that this proposition had no more logic than the proposition that the excise from liquor should be applied to the construction of hotels. There is no doubt that in a country developing as fast as Australia is developing a great many projects will have a high priority. I think of education, health, social services, water conservation and transport, all of which must be bracketed together from the point of view of priority. Defence and security of course are overriding priorities. Without them, we cannot have the other things that I have mentioned. It is difficult to say which of the fields that I have mentioned deserve greatest priority. There are others, too.
I do not accept the proposition that has been put forward by the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones). He, as have other speakers in this debate, mentioned something that concerns every thinking Australian. That is the road toll. I cannot accept the proposition that we should be building roads to accommodate the motor vehicles of today because most modern motor vehicles can go at speeds reaching 100 miles per hour to 120 miles per hour. To accommodate them, we would need speedways. A great many things agitate our minds when we consider what brings about the disastrous situation in which on the average nearly 10 people, almost 70% of whom are under the age of 27, die every day on Australian roads. We are told that 80,000 people are injured on our roads, some quarter of whom suffer injuries of a permanent nature. This is an alarming situation. The causes of it are fairly hard to define in any particular way. I do not accept the theory that we should build roads to take the vehicles that people drive today. If we did so, in certain circumstances we could add to the seriousness of the situation rather than detract from it.
The provisions of this Bill are not all that I personally would have liked. I know that the Bill is not all that a great many shires and rural areas would have liked. It is an increase on the previous requirement that at least 40% of the Commonwealth aid roads grants be spent on construction and maintenance of minor rural roads. The provision is for 5% per year compounding. It is an increase and it should keep up the momentum which has been gained already by local government bodies in their construction of roads. I hope myself that this does not represent just a toe in the door for the next period and that the differential applied to rural roads will continue to be whittled away. It is vital that our highways, our byways and our rural roads are maintained on a basis that will allow people in rural areas to carry their goods and to maintain themselves with reasonable amenities.
In his second reading speech, the Treasurer used the term ‘minor rural roads’. In part, he said:
Although it is not proposed to continue the requirement that at least 40% of the Commonwealth aid road grants be spent on construction and maintenance of ‘minor rural roads’. . . .
I suggest with respect that these roads are far from very minor rural roads. Although they are outside the categories of main roads, highways and trunk roads, these roads are very far from being minor roads. Some of these roads connect quite large centres of population. A great many of them link up with main roads. Without these feeder roads, which is a better term to use in describing them, it can be said that it is not much good building up main roads, trunk roads and highways to a high standard unless people in rural areas have access to those roads by reasonable feeder roads.
The Commonwealth Government and local government bodies can take their share of credit for what has been done regarding our roads system. I think that it is fair to say that people who enter the sphere of local government are very reasonable people who give an awful lot of their time for no reward. Those concerned with local government are probably closer to the people than those concerned with any other form of government. Therefore, those connected with local government are subject to more criticism in a great many cases. They are people who do give a very great service to the community and we should, as a nation, be grateful to this system and to the people who give their time in most cases for little or no reward. I think that this present proposal will go a long way towards overcoming our difficulties. We all knew that the States needed more money. No thinking person argued against that proposal at all. I have said this consistently. But. personally, I would have liked to see a slightly larger proportion of the grant given to rural roads because the impetus that they have gained should be maintained.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, if ever we were looking for the first glimmer of a national road plan for Australia, we would find it in this legislation. In this place 12 years ago, I urged the creation of a national roads plan. I think that I was the first member of this Parliament to make this approach here. I sought a national road plan in which the Commonwealth would take over the financing of the Australian highway system, leaving the secondary and municipal road systems to the States and the municipalities The plan before us now goes a long way towards putting the responsibility for our highway system where it should be and that is at the feet of the Federal Government.
We realise that the States are dependent almost entirely on this Government for their very financial existence. Their costs are rising at a greater rate than the Commonwealth is able to meet by increased financing. Any further burdens on the States for expansive road expenditure are beyond them. So, it is becoming more and mere the responsibility of the Commonwealth to provide for roads. What is embodied in this Bill is not a nationalised road service, but it is getting towards that with the Commonwealth financing such a wide expanse of road construction and maintenance as this Bill envisages.
The general plan briefly is this: $ 1,252m will be allocated in the next 5 years by the Commonwealth to the States for roads in three categories. The first category is urban roads. This is a revolutionary development as far as this Commonwealth Government is concerned. During the next 5 years $600.69m. or 50.06% of the principal grant, will be spent In this field. The second section relates to national trunk roads. This section will receive $1 86.76m or 15.56% of the principal grant. The third classification deals with rural roads. This classification will receive $394.55 or 32.88% of the principal grant.
In creating the new classification of urban road development under this next 5-year plan, this Government is taking off the shoulders of State governments and city councils what could be described as one of the running sore problems with which they have been dealing for many years. Unfortunately, this move indicates the growth of centralisation rather than decentralisation. We would far sooner see the trend the other way with a vast increase in the grants for rural development through rural roads and not urban roads. But the very fact that the Government now has had to face this grim reality of developing and expanding cities is seen in this legislation. This provision will help city councils enormously in developing proper types of ingress and egress roads from their sprawling cities.
I wish to mention at this stage the effect that this new agreement will have on my home State of Tasmania. Under the new formula for the next 5 years, 1969-1974, Tasmania will receive $56.25m which is an increase of $1 8.75m on the amount it received during the previous 5-year plan. We are grateful for this Increase. But there are limitations which I wish to outline in a moment. I point out that $22m of the $56.25m granted must be spent in urban areas, mainly in Hobart and Launceston. An amount of $10m will be spent on the principal highways and $19m in rural areas. Included in the amount is $2.5m for administrative costs of the Public Works Department over the 5-year period. Only about $4m of our own revenue raised in motor taxation will be available for this Department.
Tasmania’s main grant has been reduced from 5%, which it has been for many years, to 4.5% of the total principal grant. If the 5% had been retained Tasmania would have received $60m for the next 5 years instead of $56m, which would have meant an additional $4m for the country roads in Tasmania. Most observers realise that the Tasmanian road system is rather difficult because of the mountainous nature of the island. Our roads are more costly to construct than roads across the plains of Victoria, the western plains of New South Wales or in Queensland. We probably spend more per capita on country roads than any other State because of the mountainous nature of such a vast area of the island. It may be of interest for the House to know that at present 2,000 miles of our roads are sealed and that at the end of the 5-year plan before us only 300 more miles will have to be sealed. This is a wonderful tribute to the energy of the Tasmanian Public Works Department. Visitors from Queensland recently commented on the splendid road system in Tasmania. We are at present widening the Bass Highway from Launceston to Devonport, a distance of 65 miles, and the main Midlands Highway from Launceston to Hobart, a distance of 123 miles. This work has been proceeding for 5 years and it will take another 5 years to finish but it will give us a wonderful highway system.
Our present highways are taking a pounding from semi-trailers of 20 tons weight which are coming over from the mainland on the ‘Princess of Tasmania’ and returning again fully loaded. These interstate hauliers are putting tremendous pressure on our road system, but we cannot charge them a cent for the damage they are causing because of section 92 of the Constitution. New South Wales put a toll on these fellows in the early 1950s but ona of the big carriers operating between Victoria and New South Wales challenged this charge in the High Court and the Government lost the case. It cost the New South Wales Government $6m in repayments to interstate hauliers of the money taken from them to try to help maintain its highways. Section 92 is watertight and these big fellows know it. It is a pity that the States cannot, in some way, be recompensed for the damage the hauliers do to their highway systems.
Our main complaint is that under the proposed agreement the rural section will be no better off than it was under the previous agreement. It would seem that the urban development programme has been introduced at the expense of the rural section. My colleague, the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti), emphasised this most effectively. I am not going to cover all the ground that he covered, or the roads that he covered either, but he made beyond question the point that the rural section will not be better off under the new agreement. This will apply especially to Tasmania and possibly to Western Australia. In other words the Tasmanian rural section will not benefit in comparison with the other classifications under which it will benefit, namely, in respect of the trunk highway system and urban development. The Tasmanian Premier, at the Canberra meeting where all this was decided, applied to have the Tasmanian north west coast road system included in the urban development classification. Queensland made a similar application in respect of the Gold Coast road network and I understand that this application has been granted by the Commonwealth Government. Tn other words the Gold Coast will be included in the urban development in Queensland and will be entitled to share in the expanded allocation for urban development.
We want the north west coast section - a distance of about 30 miles from Devonport through Ulverstone and Penguin to Burnie - where the towns are only a few miles apart - also to be included in the urban classification. This would enable us to spend more on our main highways. However, it still does not solve the problem of the rural system which definitely has been reduced in my opinion and in the opinion of the Tasmanian Premier and Minister for Lands and Works. These two road systems - the Gold Coast and the north west coast of Tasmania - both traverse holiday areas. The Tasmanian area has a Teal agricultural hinterland as well and is in the electorate of the honourable member for Braddon (Mr Davies). It is similar to Queensland’s Gold Coast in geography and population and I believe it should be included in the urban classification. I hope that a decision will be made soon in favour of the Premier’s application.
We are not going to decry the urban classification. I think it is an excellent idea. It is the Commonwealth’s recognition of the importance of urban road development, and for the first time the Commonwealth will be accepting financial responsibility for what has been a serious problem for city councils. We should get some excellent freeways from this scheme and probably many accident spots will be wiped out as money is spent around our cities making roads better for motorists and the cities easier of access and easier to get out of. Tasmania is disappointed that its country roads will not get a better deal under the 5-year plan. Along with others who have country electorates and who appreciate the tremendous importance of agricultural industries to the Australian economy I make a plea for country roads. Many of the needs of agriculture - machinery and so forth - are transported by road from the cities. There is a two way traffic and roads are the lifeline of our economy. There is no question that roads are the lifeline of our agricultural and secondary industries. A country that does not have a good internal network of roads cannot expect to defend itself properly in any great conflict. Hitler proved this beyond doubt in Germany. He rushed through the construction of an enormous concrete road system which eventually enabled him to do tremendous things militarily in Germany and for Germany in the early stages of the Second World War. We believe that the internal road link is the lifeline of our transport system as well as of our agriculture. I am not deprecating what the railways do, but we cannot exist with railways alone or with roads alone. They complement each other, but ir many parts of Australia there are no railways at all and such areas are dependent on a good road system.
Any money spent on country roads as an investment is far more valuable to Australia than a similar amount spent on urban roads. This is a good point to stress economically while we debate this Bill. The countryman knows that without a road he is impoverished. When any new settlement is opened up, the first thing that is built is a road. Roads are also constructed in forestry areas, in hydro-electric development areas and in isolated areas where dams are being binh. Later these roads become tourist roads. In my own State of Tasmania we are spending approximately $120m on the Mersey Valley hydro-electric scheme. The scheme is in about its fifth year, lt is opening up entirely new virgin country. Six large dams are being built. Two rivers are being diverted into the central river, lt is a gigantic scheme. When the dams are completed the roads which are being built by the Hydro-electric Commismission will become State tourist roads. So wherever a road is built it adds to the development of the area, and this helps in the building up of our economy. Roads are the friends of everybody, even though the death rate on them is frightening and appalling; but that is another aspect of the matter.
There are 2.8 persons per motor vehicle in Australia, which makes Australia the third most densely motorised country in the world behind the United States and New Zealand. In 1967-68 road passenger miles travelled in Australia totalled 43,825 million over 545,467 miles of roads and highways. In the same year there were 3,249 deaths and 81,148 persons were injured on our roads; many of the injured later died. All of these things point to the vital necessity for the construction of road and highway systems of the highest possible quality. Forward planning is very important for our country and city councils. The Bill before us, under which the various authorities know how much money they will receive over the next 5 years, is the answer to the haphazard approach which councils have been forced to adopt in financing their road programmes in past years. Under this Bill the authorities will know exactly how much they will receive each year and they can budget accordingly. This is one of the strong points of the Bill with which we are dealing tonight. Forward planning is possible only when it is known how much finance will be available year by year. This is the great advantage of a 5 year programme in out economy, not only in relation to roads but also in relation to other matters. State governments and municipalities can plan wisely once they know how much finance they are to receive each year from the central authority. I feel sure that country councils throughout Australia welcome that aspect of the legislation.
A first class road system is vital to the tourist industry in every State of Australia. Tasmania will need to allocate its share of the new road grant very wisely in order to gain the maximum overall benefit for the tourist industry in our island, which is growing at a rapid rate each year. I should like to mention here that in the wider fie id of roads and road users, the Australian Automobile Association has pointed out that investment in roads brings great benefits, greater industrial activity, a more competitive export situation, the saving of congestion which already costs Australia more than S 1,000m annually and, of course, saving in accident costs. The 5 year plan before us sets in motion a further attempt to improve the road system throughout Australia.
It may be of interest to the House to note that according to the Australian Automobile Association next to Victoria Tasmania appears to have the busiest roads in Australia. Records just compiled by the Association indicate that Tasmania has 85 vehicles per mile of classified highways, trunk and main roads. Victoria has 88 vehicles per mile of classified highways, trunk and main roads, New South Wales has 73, South Australia has 61, Queensland has 54 and Western Australia has 36. These are interesting statistics which the Australian Automobile Association has compiled, and tonight I pay a great tribute to this organisation for the massive amount of research it does in the field of roads throughout Australia. All honourable members probably receive a weekly or bi-weekly copy of the organisation’s magazine, which contains statistics from other parts of the world. I certainly pay a tribute to the Australian Automobile Association for what it is doing to try to keep this Government abreast of the vital needs for our roads.
One thing that came out of the representations of the Association and of honourable members on this side of the House is the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads. We have been fighting for the establishment of some centralised body to take over road planning. When the Bureau of Roads was formed we were, and still are, cynical about it because we believe that it is not the complete answer. It is an advisory body. We believe that there should be a body which has more executive powers than the Bureau has. However, the Bureau has been in existence for a couple of years and it has made the massive report which was before the Government when it brought down this new 5-year road plan. The Bureau did a tremendous job in bringing down this report, which contains a great deal of detail and a number of recommendations. Not all of the recommendations were accepted by the Government, but at least the report has helped the Department of Shipping and Transport to acquire up to date figures and facts which were needed when this legislation was planned. I feel sure that when we become the Government we will give teeth to the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads; we will give it more executive authority.
At this stage I want to refer to the collection of petrol tax, or fuel tax as we call it. The honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) moved the following amendment to the motion for the second reading of the Bill:
This House, while not opposing the Bill, regrets the Government’s continuing refusal to plan expenditure of an amount at least equivalent to the proceeds of all the automotive fuel taxes on roads and associated facilities.
By that amendment we mean that all money which this Government collects in fuel tax should be spent on our road systems. During the last 5-year road plan the Government put into Consolidated Revenue an amount of $397,246,000 from the moneys it collected in fuel taxes. The Government is spending on our roads systems about 85% of the money it collects in fuel taxes, but the other 15% is being put into Consolidated Revenue. If this $400m were spread over 5 years, it would add another $80m a year to the money spent on our road systems. When we become the Government we will change the system and allocate the total amount of money collected in fuel taxes to our road systems. We have said this for a few years now. It is about time that some of the country people in Australia woke up and realised that there is an alternative government which is prepared to make this sort of grant. We are not fooling around with this - this is an absolute fact. It is what we will do when we become a government.
Finally, I would like to say a word about the tragic accidents that occur in Australia. I do not have before me the figures of those killed since the last world war, but taking an average of about 2,500 deaths a year and multiplying this figure by 24 we arrive at the total of those who have perished on our highways since the war. It is 60,000. This is another war, it is the undeclared war. This is a war in a peacetime setting. We have a war on the roads. Tragic murders are taking place and no-one gets put in gaol for life and no-one is threatened with hanging or anything else when he commits murder on our roads. But this is going on day and night. The House should know that 64% of deaths on the road is due to alcohol one way or the other. We hear excuses all the time for those caught with drink in them after an accident. All the time people are trying to say: ‘Oh, it is only 20% or only 30% of road deaths that are due to alcohol’.
Dr Birrell has done tremendous research on this in Melbourne. He has come up with the irrefutable figures - and the beer manufacturers know this is true but they deny it all along the line - that responsibility for 64% of the road deaths in Australia can be levelled at alcohol in one form or another.
– What about Breathalyser tests?
– Yes, the Breathalyser test is all right. I feel that this is an excellent way to judge whether a man is under the influence. But when a driver who has wiped a family out in a flash - in one moment of time - is afterwards charged with driving under the influence of drink, the charge really should be murder. I do not know why our courts do not start to call it murder and deal with the person responsible as they do with murderers. I have no excuses for anyone and I will not defend anyone tonight who, while under the influence, murders a family in cold blood on the roads of Australia.
But the people behind him ought to be blamed too - those who serve this person alcohol knowing that !.e is going to walk out of a pub into a motor car and become a potential murderer. Let us stop the hypocrisy of trying to make out that alcohol is a very minor cause of road accidents. It is a major cause. I can quote case after case in the last 6 months in my own State of people who are no longer with us. These people have been the innocent victims of murderers who have walked out of pubs full of drink. Our laws should be tightened up. We are playing with the problem of the driver who is under the influence. We are playing with this problem and we are letting more and more get away with it
What happens when persons charged with drunken driving are convicted? They are fined. Very few are ever gaoled or have their cars taken away from them. The laws that operate in Australia today for the drunken motorist who has murdered a person are wishy-washy, sickening and weak. We as a Commonwealth cannot do anything about this; it is not our responsibility. The States make these laws and it is their responsibility and the responsibility of magistrates to see that these murderers on our roads are dealt with as such. The sooner they wake up to this type of person the better. He is getting away with it today. In every State there are different laws for different road accidents. Why cannot we get a bit of uniformity? The same sort of death on a similar road in different States should be dealt with uniformly. But at the moment in one State he might get 6 months if he has been convicted of being drunk behind the wheel of a car and wipes out a family, whereas the penalty in another State might be different. The penalty varies in each State. It is not right that this should be so. People convicted of this offence should receive the maximum penalty that we can have on our books. Their cars should be taken from them, as well as their drivers licences, for 2 years or longer. If we do this drivers might think twice before driving after drinking and so help to reduce the tragic death toll on Australian roads.
– I rise to speak on the Commonwealth Aid Roads Bill realising that it is an improvement on the pre-existing legislation that provided for an expenditure for the quinquennium 1964-69 of $750m and is in keeping with the progressive thinking of this Government. The Government enlisted the aid of the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads and this instrumentality undertook a thorough survey of the road situation existing in Australia. This comprehensive assessment took into consideration future population trends and other factors essential in determining road requirements in the various States and the Bureau made a recommendation that $ 1,280m was required to supply these needs for the ensuing 5-year period.
As the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Armstrong) said, we did not all agree with the assessment for the needs of rural roads. Nevertheless it was a good report and I commend the Bureau on it. The Treasury saw fit to reduce this sum to S 1, 200m as a principal grant. However, it no doubt realised that although this amount was about 60% more than the grants of the previous 5 years, if this was adhered to there would be justifiable objection from the smaller States of Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania. Because of this a further amount of $52m, or just a little more, was provided in the form of supplementary grants for those States and I commend the Government for this action which otherwise would have created considerable ill will between the Commonwealth and the States concerned.
– Very generous.
– I believe that is so, and I also believe that the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads’ recommendation of $ 1,280m should have been adhered to as there are many ways in which this additional money could be used, particularly in rural areas. I do realise, of course, that the increased allocation for urban roads will enable the States to provide more money for rural roads. I hope that this will prove to be the case.
Having studied the increased allocation for the States, I notice that New South Wales has been granted $380.4m compared with $209. 1m or 82% more than for the previous 5 years. Victoria has received 72% more, and Queensland 67% more. These States should be well pleased with the generosity of the Commonwealth Government. I feel it is fair to recognise the tremendous problems which exist, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne, where urban development is causing many headaches for the State governments.
I realise that in the Sydney urban area road planning involves costly bridge works and additional money must be provided to cope with such additional expense. However, when we consider that Western Australia was originally granted a 19% increase, South Australia 39.5% and Tasmania 44% on the previous amount made available for roads, it is no wonder it was decided to find further money to bring these States up to at least 50% more than was received in the previous 5 years. Western Australia, of course, is a State that is bursting with activity as we all know and it is essential that urgent transport needs should be attended to.
– And South Australia?
– I certainly agree with that. The honourable member for Barton realises the potential of South Australia. I feel that more money should have been allocated to Western Australia as it is undoubtedly of great importance to the nation’s economy and is contributing in no small way to our income. People living in South Australia are complaining that their State is the poor relation of the Commonwealth. In spite of Commonwealth aid in respect of special assistance for the Gidgealpa pipeline, for instance, and the upgrading of the Birdsville Track and other aid provided through section 96, the State feels that much more assistance is required to develop its potential.
Today we learned - 1 know that South Australians will greet this with acclaim - that the Commonwealth Government has provided an additional S2m to assist South Australia with its budgetary problems. Nevertheless, there are many who feel that South Australia is hard done by. South Australia has much to offer and needs the continued support of the Commonwealth Government in order to develop its resources. Under the present State Government the climate for industrial development has improved. The forward-looking policy of providing additional funds for mining exploration has resulted in increased activity in the northern part of the State. Recently, negotiations have been entered into concerning the Mt Gunson copper deposits and a company has been established with Colonial Sugar Refining Co. Ltd and United Uranium NL interests to commence production in the near future.
– Where is that?
– That is in the northern part of South Australia in the electorate of Grey. Rich zinc deposits have been discovered near Beltana in the Flinders Ranges and there are possibilities of other similar projects proving to be viable in the near future. This will mean that the State Government of South Australia will have to provide funds to upgrade roads in those areas.
Mt Gunson is 8 miles from the Woomera road which is sealed for some 20 miles from Woomera in the direction of Port Augusta but the rest of the 90-odd miles of road is merely a graded sand and limestone track for the most part. The Commonwealth Government has, of course, provided an annual grant for the maintenance of this road but I believe it has been a case of throwing good money after bad because it is a hopeless battle to keep it in a good state of repair. It would have been a much more economical plan in the long run to have provided a substantial sum to help the South Australian Government complete the forming and sealing of this rather important rural road that provides over 2,000 Commonwealth employees and their families with a means of egress from Woomera, a Commonwealth town, to the south. The high incidence of heavy Commonwealth transport, and now the heavy transport vehicles of the mining company mentioned, will serve to reduce this section of the road to bull dust. In the Beltana area the State Government will have to consider upgrading these roads to enable mining operations to proceed unimpeded. It will, no doubt, be necessary for the South Australian authorities to spend a considerable sum of money to do this work.
The State Government has problems with the Leigh Creek-Hawker road. It will place a strain on State funds to provide formation for this rural road. Would you believe that this road has no foundation at all at the moment?
– Where is this area?
– This is an area leading to the Flinders Ranges. It is also a very prominent tourist area. 1 realise that these latter problems are essentially State ones and I mention them only to remind the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) and the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) of the demands placed on State governments to meet the requirements of road users in the country areas. I want to turn once again to the Eyre Highway and reiterate what I have said on numerous other occasions concerning the Commonwealth’s responsibility for this highway, the only road link between South Australia and Western Australia. This road is a classic example of where the Commonwealth interest should override State interests. I think it is fair to say that this road is of greater importance to interstate travellers than road users within the State. That is a sweeping statement but I want to remind the House that some time ago I gave some figures indicating that of the total number of vehicles using that highway 38% were registered in South Australia and the remaining 62% were registered in other States.
The Treasurer will say, of course, that the additional S9m that has been granted to the South Australian Government can be used by the State Government on any road, and if these roads that I have mentioned do not rate high on the State priority list then the Commonwealth Government is not to blame. That is fair enough, I expect, with respect to a large number of country roads, but there is an unanswerable case, in my opinion, and in the opinion of the State Government, concerning the Eyre Highway, the Stuart Highway and, to a slightly lesser degree, the Woomera road.
– Have you travelled these roads?
– I have been up there on many, many occasions in the course of my work and I can assure you that they are in a shocking state. The Premier of South Australia, Mr Hall, has made another approach to the Commonwealth Government for special financial assistance to accelerate the sealing of the Eyre Highway. His Govern ment has agreed to continue with the formation and sealing of the Ceduna-Penong section and recently has announced plans to complete a further 16 miles in the next financial year. But we must realise the immense problems associated with the completion of this road to the border - the penalties imposed because of the cost of transporting suitable materials to the area, and the cost of transporting water and other materials necessary for the construction work.
The Western Australian Government has made more headway, and I understand it will have completed its section to the border by the end of 1969 or early in 1970. lt is, of course, of greater importance to Western Australia to have this road link with the eastern States in order to encourage tourism and to assist in the rapid development that 1 have mentioned in that State. It naturally has a greater incentive and place a much higher priority on the work than South Australia. This makes Commonwealth assistance more imperative and I ask the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), the Treasurer and the Minister for Shipping and Transport to look sympathetically at the South Australian Government’s latest plea for help.
– What do you think they should do?
– 1 think they should” provide a special grant to help the State Government do that work. Another road of great importance to both South Australia and the Northern Territory is the highway that I mentioned before, the Stuart Highway. That is a grand sounding name for a graded bush track from Pimba to the Northern Territory border. The honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) and myself have repeatedly drawn this road to the attention of the Minister. Both the honourable member for the Northern Territory and I have driven over this section and we know the disgraceful state it is in. I think this experience should be shared by other honourable members and Ministers to make them realise the state of this road. Here is a road of special interest to the Commonwealth as it provides access to a Commonwealth Territory, and as such should demand the financial support of this Government. 1 realise that surveys are being conducted and that an inter-departmental committee is actively concerned on all aspects relating to transport in that area and I hope that before long this House will be presented with a comprehensive report of these surveys and that the Minister will be in a position to recommend a further allocation of funds to the State Government in order that work might commence on the most important task of forming and sealing this road to the border. With respect to roads expenditure, the States have been required to provide matching finance and the broad objective of the 19S9 roads legislation was to ensure that State allocations increased each year to keep pace with the contributions made by the Commonwealth. Under the 1964 Act, a State Government was required to spend an equivalent amount in excess of the amount which it was required to spend in 1963-64 in order to qualify for its share of the matching grant in that year. It is interesting to note that every State Government has recently been spending more than this required amount.
In South Australia, for instance, the amount required to be spent in 1966-67 was almost $ 11.9m. The actual amount spent was $13. 16m. In 1967-68 the required amount was $12. 6m and the actual amount spent was $12.91m. It is estimated that the State Government will spend $13.5m in the current 1968-69 financial! year when it is required to spend only $13. 2m.
– They must have a Liberal Government there.
– That is quite true. If this trend is continued - and I feel that this will happen - a far greater increase in expenditure on roads can be expected in the 1969-74 period. I think the honourable member for Riverina said that in spite of what Opposition supporters suggest there has been a terrific improvement in rural roads over the last few years and this undoubtedly wm continue with the impetus given by this legislation.
The proposals for the next 5 years lay down that each State Government is required to Increase allocations for roads in proportion to the increase in the number of motor vehicles in the State for the year ending in December of the previous year. In other words, if the vehicle population increases by 4% for the year ending December 1969, for the subsequent year that State is expected to increase expenditure on roads by a similar percentage. It is reasonable to expect that in some years, as I have indicated, a State will spend considerably more than in other years and it is recognised that a State could find difficulty if a provision were made to increase expenditure automatically each year at the same rate as the increase in motor vehicles. The Commonwealth has, therefore, in its wisdom, proposed that government will be able to count the excess in such a year of unusually high expenditure in a subsequent year as part of its matching contribution in that year. That is quite a sensible provision.
There could also be some difficulty experienced by the States in spending the Commonwealth funds within the 6 months after the end of a particular year, as was provided by the old legislation. This has been recognised and as a result of this Bill a State may be permitted a longer time to spend a particular grant provided, of course, that it can be shown that efforts have been made to spend the money. This, I believe, will meet with general approval. There is also a certain amount of licence given concerning the spending of money on certain classes of roads. Here the legislation provides for a State to be allowed limited transfers of funds to enable them to carry out roadwork of a different classification. This naturally would be approved only in exceptional circumstances, but it does enable governments to vary the class of road in extenuating circumstances so that the funds can be used to advantage.
Mr Speaker, I have pleasure in supporting the Bill. I ask that the Government look again at the point I have raised about the highways in South Australia that are of particular significance to the Commonwealth. 1 hope that additional special grants will be forthcoming in the near future to assist in providing adequate highways linking South Australia with Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
– The measure before the House is one of the type that comes before us at 5 yearly intervals. The last Bill of this nature was before us in 1964. The provisions of this measure are of tremendous importance to and will have a substantial effect upon the
Commonwealth generally. Under it the Commonwealth provides money to the States for financing roads during the next 5 years. This year the Government had decided upon a method that is different from that used previously for apportioning the moneys amongst the States and 1 will refer to that in more detail later. As T see it. the Bill will have a detremental effect on roads in country areas and particularly in remote areas.
The amount that the Commonwealth Government has seen fit to provide for the next 5 years totals $ 1,252.05m. Of this New South Wales will receive S380.4m or 81.9% more than it received in the last 5 years. Victoria will receive $254m or 73.2% more than it received in the last period. Queensland will receive $23 lm, which is an increase of 69%. South Australia will receive SI 29m, Western Australia $200.4m and Tasmania $56.25m, which in each case will be an increase of 50% over the last period. These increases may at first glance look rather good and may suggest that the Government has been quite generous in the grants it has made for roads. However, it must not be forgotten that the road users themselves are providing the finance through the fuel tax they pay. When this is examined we find that the Government is not quite as generous as it appeared to be.
The difference in the percentage increases for the several States has also meant that the percentage of the total for some States is higher than it is for others. This situation leaves plenty of room for argument For instance, in this period New South Wales is to receive 30.3% of the total as against 27,8% in the previous period, an increase of 2.5%. Victoria in the last period received 19.5% of the total and in this period will receive 20.3%, an increase of only .8% as against the increase for New South Wales of 2.5%. Queensland will receive 18.5% of the total whereas in the last period it received 16.9%. South Australia in the last period received 11.4% of the total whereas in the coming period it will receive only 10.3%, a reduction of 1.1%. Western Australia over the last 5 years received 17.8% of the total, but during the coming period it will collect only 16%. It will suffer a reduction of 1.8%, which is fairly substantial when it is measured against the total of
SI. 252m. Tasmania in the last period received 5% and this time will get only 4.5%.
While it may be interesting to analyse the reasons for these differences, they are rather alarming for Western Australia. Because of iron ore, salt, nickel and other mineral developments and also developments of an agricultural nature, Western Australia finds itself in a position where demands for both new and improved roads are very much greater than ever before. Most of these demands come from the remote and high cost areas and this makes it necessary to provide additional finance beyond normal needs. Despite this demand, the Commonwealth decided that the State should receive a lesser share of Commonwealth aid for roads than it received in the previous period. Western Australia, with a population of fewer than 900,000 or only about 7£% of Australia’s total population, has an area of 1 million square miles or about one-third of Australia. Unfortunately the Government has decided on this occasion to change the formula for the distribution of moneys and area has not been taken into account. This decision has had a very serious effect upon Western Australia’s share and has, on the other hand, proved to be of benefit to the more populous States.
Population has apparently been accepted as being of far greater importance than development Yet, if development did not occur, this country would not receive the finance which directly and indirectly flows from development and in turn we would not have an upsurge of population in the smaller States. Western Australia has always faced a tremendous problem in trying to provide sufficient roads of reasonable structure over its huge area and that problem has been greatly increased by the very rapid development in the mineral fields that I have just mentioned.
Honourable members will recall that in 1958 the Labor Government of Western Australia asked the Commonwealth Government to lift the ban on the export of iron ore. The Commonwealth for political reasons, knowing that it would help Labor in Western Australia if it did so, refused. However, in 1960, after a change of government in Western Australia, the Commonwealth Government reversed its decision and lifted the ban. As a result very large iron ore deposits have been opened up in the north of the State and other deposits have been taken up and are ready for development when the time, price and demand are right. I think it will be found that something like 90% of the known iron ore deposits in Australia are located in the remote areas of Western Australia. They are located in areas where, prior to I960, there were practically no roads and where, even prior to 1964, the roads that were usable were very rough and of such a nature that only four wheel drive vehicles could travel over them. Not only are 90% of the deposits of iron ore located in Western Australia, but approximately the same percentage of the locations in Western Australia are situated in what is known as the Pilbara, at a distance of 700 to 900 miles from Perth by road and the ports from which the iron ore will be exported are between 800 and 1,100 miles from Perth. The road distance from the deposits to the port of export is from 200 to 2S0 miles. I state those mileages to give honourable members some idea of the cost of providing a reasonable road to those several areas of export.
While it can and may well be argued that the companies themselves should provide more towards roads and certain other conditions and amenities, the fact cannot be overlooked that hundreds of miles of roads are required beyond what the companies would use in relation to the developing and carrying out of their business. Also of course the increase in population and extension of housing areas at the port towns has meant that the local authorities are faced with road programmes the cost of which is well in excess of their finances. There has been an increase in traffic over the roads between Perth and the iron ore projects. For instance, about 90 miles north of Carnarvon on the north west coast highway - and that is about 700 miles from Perth - the traffic has more than doubled. On the Great Northern Highway also, which is the highway going inland from Port Hedland, traffic has doubled over the past 2 years. This means that at the junction of those roads the road traffic has increased four times. While much may be said about the increase of traffic in the cities and the more populous States it cannot be claimed that it has increased by anything like the increases to which I have just referred.
I think it is fairly elementary that as traffic increases the roads will deteriorate unless you provide them with a bitumen or concrete surface. Of course where you have unsealed roads, many miles of which we have in Western Australia, the greater the traffic the greater the problems that arise. It is obvious that if those roads could be sealed it would cause a great saving in the long run. Every year we witness the grading and repairing of these roads to keep them in traffickable condition. In some areas of the State it is possible to carry out this road work only during certain times of the year. This poses a further problem in that more machinery is required to carry out repair work or to effect improvements than is required in the more populous States. While it can be argued that the more populous States have a far greater number of vehicles and more road users, it can be argued also that the percentage increase in road use is far greater in the developing States like Western Australia.
Not only has road use increased but also there had been and will be substantial increases in population in centres hundreds of miles from the metropolitan area. For instance, during the past 4 years the population in the Pilbara division has more than doubled, and it is claimed that by 1975 the population could be ten times as much as it was 4 years ago. It could reach about 33,000, while the total population north of the 26th parallel is expected to grow from 13,500 in 1961 to 59,000 or 60,000 in 1975. This population increase is expected to have taken place shortly after the expiration of the legislation which we are at present debating. Therefore by July 1973, the last year in which this legislation will operate, above the 26th parallel we could have a population increase to at least 50,000 or a percentage increase of 400%. Imagine what this will mean in relation not only to road needs but also to town requirements. Local authorities will be hard pressed, with the finance available to them, to provide the necessary things in the towns for which they are responsible without having to build and to maintain roads. Let us look at Port Hedland, the major port for iron ore. In 1967, the local shire, with an area of almost 9,500 square miles, included 271 miles of formed road, 264 miles paved roads including streets, and 148 miles of unprepared roads. This mileage has increased considerably, and it will increase a great deal more during the next few years. Many of these roads and street extensions will require a fairly extensive outlay of money.
It is all right to argue about how many vehicles and owners are using the roads of the more densely populated States, but it must be remembered that in the majority of cases they are using good bitumen or concrete roads which are kinder both to vehicles and users than rough roads, or roads of only narrow bitumen strips with very bad shoulders. So that while the people as a whole pay more in fuel tax, as individuals they pay less. They also pay less in sales tax on tyres, motor vehicles and motor vehicle repairs because motor vehicles have a much shorter life on bad roads than on good roads. One thing that always makes me savage is to see good roads in metropolitan or near metropolitan areas being torn up and relaid. If those roads were in the outlying areas they would be regarded as first class. Perfectly good roads are done away with and new roads laid simply to get rid of a slight bend or rise, or to cause a minor shortening of distance. This goes on notwithstanding the fact that many other roads are not only in a poor condition but also in a dangerous state in that they may cause accidents. They have large and deep potholes, bad and broken shoulders on narrow bitumen strips, or bog or dust holes where there is no bitumen. Despite the need for better roads in the outback or country areas, and the spending of money on metropolitan roads which is not actually warranted, as I have pointed out, on this occasion the amount to be allocated to be spent on rural roads within the States has been reduced from 40% to about 33%. The area factor in relation to the formula is removed.
Over the next 5 years New South Wales will receive Commonwealth aid towards roads amounting to $380.4m. On the other hand, Western Australia will receive only S200m. As the title of this Bill shows, the money is for roads. One would expect, as New South Wales is to receive almost twice as much as Western Australia, that New
South Wales must have a far greater mileage of roads in total, and must also have a much greater mileage of roads other than highways. The fact is, however, that New South Wales has a total of 131,303 miles, while Western Australia has 109,180 miles. Whereas Western Australia has other roads which can be classed as subsidised by State road authorities to a total of 44,041 miles, New South Wales has only 4,286 miles in this category. New South Wales has 102,682 miles of unsealed roads and Western Australia has 95,375 miles of unsealed roads. Those figures show that the allocation of money has no relationship to actual road needs and existing road conditions. If it did Western Australia would receive not a great deal less than New South Wales.
A survey of other States would show that Western Australia should receive more than the others, including Victoria. The money is not allocated, it seems, with a view towards meeting the demand for new roads. If it was, Western Australia again because of its road needs in the outer and developing areas, would need to receive an allocation second only to New South Wales. So we come back to the argument that the most money must be spent in those States where the most revenue is collected from fuel tax or, in other words, the States with the greatest number of vehicles must get the biggest share of Commonwealth aid. Apparently this is done irrespective of whether they have a greater or lesser need in relation to roads.
The argument in this respect is no different from that used by many people in the more populous States in relation to the allocation to the States of moneys collected by the Commonwealth from taxes of a general nature. I have frequently heard people from New South Wales and Victoria - and some who should know better, including the Premier of Victoria - argue that all moneys collected by or from those States should be spent in those States. In other words, they do not support uniform taxation as being the best thing for Australia. Apparently they would not care if, for instance, Western Australians and South Australians had to pay much higher taxation so long as the taxation of people in New South Wales or Victoria was lowered. In the Pong run this would never work out in the interests of the Commonwealth. I suggest that the same thing applies in relation to the development of, or developments In, a State. Developments in a State benefit not only that State but Australia as a whole. Therefore, in this matter, if there is an urgent need for new roads or improvements to existing roads to increase or enhance the development or possibility of development, surely those needs should not be secondary to simply making money available on the basis of the number of people or number of vehicles in a State.
No one can convince me that money spent on roads and streets in capital cities, no matter which, is always wisely spent or spent because it is necessary to spend it. Most of it is wasted in the true sense when we look at the needs over the whole Commonwealth. If it comes to an argument as to where the money should be spent to derive or give the greatest benefit to road users, much of the money that is now spent in capital cities would have to be spent outside the cities. The same argument applies to the amount of money being spent in the different States. My argument is not that New South Wales, Victoria or any other State should receive less money; my argument is that Western Australia should receive more because of its heavy commitments for new and better roads, because the cost of such roads is so very high even to bring them to a reasonable trafficable state. In support of those remarks I point out that the sealing of the North West Coastal Highway between Carnarvon and Port Hedland, a distance of 550 miles, was estimated to cost $17. lm in 1966. Because of that cost and the state of finances the programme had to be spread over 9 years, even though the sealing of that road is of very great importance to northern development. The Great Northern Highway is also urgently in need of upgrading to a sealed stage but this, according to the Commissioner of Main Roads in Western Australia, is impossible under existing financial circumstances. The section of that road between Meekatharra and Wyndham, a distance of 1,600 miles, is mostly unsealed. To seal it completely would cost, again according to the Commissioner of Main Roads, an amount of $40m, and a further $6m would be required to complete the road between Meekatharra and Perth.
Those roads are just a couple of those which require urgent attention in the north of Western Australia. Yet despite their urgency and the urgent needs in other areas of the State the Commonwealth has decided that over the next 5 years Western Australia’s share of the Commonwealth aid roads grant is to be 1.8% less than it was over the period of the last grant. In my book the very least we could have expected was the same percentage as we received in the period from 1964 to 1969. Of course, good roads are not just important from the angle of comfort or convenience. They are more important from the accident angle and also from the point of view of the cost of transport and haulage. One of the reasons for the high cost of living in the north is the condition of the roads and the resultant heavy wear on tyres and vehicles generally. If my memory serves me right, the Loder Committee in its report on northern transport said that wear and tear costs in the north were almost double what they were in the south. Because of the aspects to which I have referred I hope that the Government, while it has not seen fit to give Western Australia a greater share of the funds will arrange for substantial specific grants to allow the important work on northern and rural roads to be carried out.
In addition to the development in the north we have had considerable developments in new land settlement in Western Australia. Between 1952 and 1966 over 7,850,000 acres of new land were opened up. That area was equal to something like 37% of the total acreage of land that was opened up in the whole of Australia during those years. This increase in land development means that here again additional and better roads are required. If we want land opened up we must provide roads. This is a further cost or burden not only for the State Main Roads Department but also for the local authorities. It is in this sort of area that local government authorities will find that the reduction from 40% to about 33% a fairly heavy burden to carry. All they can do is either convince the State Government that they need more finance or increase rates and taxes. And that avenue of revenue is almost exhausted, as ratepayers and vehicle users are being taxed to the hilt already.
Finally, I want to point out that Western Australia has a high percentage of exports in relation to population. If it is good enough to look at population in relation to usage of motor vehicles it should also have a place in relation to exports. Increasing production from Western Australia’s primary industries, which include minerals, wool, meat and wheat, is making a significant contribution to the economy of this country. Figures show that, with only of the total population of Australia, Western Australia imports only 5% of the total imports and exports almost 14% of the total exports. The latter figure will rise in the near future, particularly if roads can be improved.
I refer now to a document called ‘The Problem of Urgent Road Development in Remote Areas of Western Australia’ and written by the Commissioner of Main Roads. It contains the following table:
The percentage increase for Western Australia - namely, 30.3% - was considerably ahead of that for any of the other States. Of course, the Western Australian figure will increase in the near future with the further development of the north, particularly if finance can be put into roads as it should be. Let me now read out what the Commissioner of Main Roads in Western Australia had to say. He said:
The export trade surplus generated in Western Australia is therefore playing a big part in covering the substantial import requirements for promoting industrial growth in the eastern States.
However, it is because of the very nature of the pace of growth and road requirements of these primary industries in Western Australia that there is a large deficit between the revenues available for road construction and our urgent road needs. The backlog of inadequate road construction in these areas is not diminishing with time and the present year’s (1967-68) allocation of $600,000 for new land settlement roads, which is an all time high, is nowhere near enough.
There are many other problems encountered in these remote areas, such as the lack of suitable road building materials, the extreme climate, isolation and the problem of obtaining and retaining an adequate labour force. However, these problems are reasonably easily overcome given the necessary finance. It is the tremendous size of the task and the extreme shortage of funds which are the main problems found in trying to satisfy the urgent demands for roads in the rapidly expanding remote areas of Western Australia.
If it is good enough to allocate roads aid on the basis of giving the greatest amount to the States in which the greatest amount of revenue from the fuel tax is gathered, surely it is good enough to distribute the whole of the revenue from that tax - not just a portion of it - so as to ensure that the purpose of the tax - namely, better roads - is carried out. I heartily support the amendment moved by the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones), which calls on the Government to make the whole amount of that tax revenue available under roads aid. At present the Government retains about 15% of the tax revenue for general revenue. This is not good enough. It reaches a fairly high figure over several years. That amount of money would become extremely important and very beneficial to the States, particularly those with large areas to which I have been referring. I support the amendment.
– I was pleased to hear what the honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard) had to say about the progress in the field of exports and the limited amount of imports in Western Australia. Of course, this has all come about since the return of the Liberal Party to office in that State. Before the Liberal Party came to power there that State had the greatest rate of unemployment in the Commonwealth. It really was a backward State. However, thank’s to the good management of the Liberal Party, Western Australia is now a very prosperous State. I congratulate the honourable member for Kalgoorlie on bringing this fact before the Parliament. Events in Western Australia foreshadow what Tasmania can expect if the Liberal Party becomes the Government in that State. Instead of remaining in the doldrums, as it has been for 35 years, Tasmania, with all the wonderful resources available to it, will follow the pattern of Western Australia and become a very prosperous State. We all look forward to the day when Tasmania ceases to be a debtor
State and becomes a prosperous one. This will happen if the Liberal Party comes to power there.
I rise to support this Bill and to congratulate the Government for the grant that it is making. I oppose the amendment moved by the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones). However, again I take great heart at the number of amendments moved by the Opposition which contain congratulatory remarks in their first sentences. Those remarks appear in almost every amendment moved by the Opposition. The words I refer to are:
This House, while not opposing the Bill . . .’
Those words are a great tribute. The Opposition can find no logical reason to oppose the Bill. Following those words the amendment goes on to mention some mundane irrelevant fact. This is the remaining wording of the amendment:
What utter humbug! After all, example is better than precept. The Labor Party did not do this while it was in power; it did not even approach the expenditure that this Government is achieving. It did not devote all of the petrol tax to roads. What pride we must have when the Opposition uses such words at the beginning of its amendment. The Opposition can find no fault with this Bill other than to make such a nebulous statement as that contained in the last part of this amendment. As I said previously, had the Labor Party spent all of the fuel tax on roads when it was occupying the government benches perhaps it would have some justification for advocating such a course today.
The Bill before the House is a remarkable one. Under the present Commonwealth Aid Roads Act grants are distributed to the States on the same basis as that introduced in the 1959 legislation; namely, in the proportion of 5% of the total for Tasmania with the remainder being shared among the other five States according to a certain formula. That formula operates on this basis: One-third according to the population at the last preceding census; one-third according to the area of the State; and one-third according to the numbers of vehicles registered as at 31st Decem ber in the preceding year. Both the majority and the minority reports of the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads approached the question of distribution in the first instance on the basis that it would be desirable to distribute the grants to the States in accordance with the relative road needs of each State, assessed in economic terms. The Bureau also rescheduled projects to lake account of physical and labour resources.
I think that one of the main contributions that the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads has made, although I do not agree entirely with the classifications as specified, is that at least it has brought uniformity to the classification of roads. As many people, including local councillors and aldermen will not be able to obtain a copy of the report by the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads to this Parliament and as I hope-
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise to a point of order. May I suggest that you suggest to the honourable member that he speaks a little louder so that I can hear what he is saying. I am finding it difficult to hear him now.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Cope)Order! The point of order is without substance.
– I hope that many councillors and aldermen will be listening tonight. I wish to give a definition of the various classifications of roads because many of those listening will not have available to them the opportunity to study the report. In the recommendations under the heading ‘Definition of Road Classes Used in the Australian Roads Survey’, which are contained in Appendix V of the report, it is surprising to note that up to class 5 all of the roads are rural roads despite the fact that they go from capital to capital. I think that there should be an easier classification. It is most necessary under the legislation and in regard to the aid given to the States that the classification in each and every State should be identical.
I want people who are listening to this debate to know what these classifications are so that they will get a better understanding and appreciation of the situation. Appendix V sets out the various classes.
Class 1 - Inter-regional roads
Roads in rural areas providing for the long distance movements throughout Australia generally between State capital cities.
Class 2 - Through roads
Roads in rural areas not being Class 1 whose main function is to form the principal avenue of communication for movements:
between a State capital city and adjoining States and their capital cities
between a State capital city and key towns
between key towns.
Class 3 - Connecting and distributing roads Those roads in rural areas not being Class 1 or 2 whose main function is to form an avenue of communication for movement:
between important centres and the Class 1 and 2 roads and/or key towns
between important centres
Class 4 - Land access roads
Those roads in rural areas whose main function is to provide for movements between communities or individual properties and roads of higher classification.
Class 5 - Special Purpose Roads
Those roads in rural areas whose main purpose is to provide almost exclusively for one activity or function (i.e., tourist road, timber getting road, etc.) or, a road whose main purpose is to allow or stimulate productive development of an area.
The other classifications refer to arterial roads. I will not bother about them as we are more concerned with rural roads. When the difficulties regarding the classification of roads are ironed out, I feel sure that the problems now facing the shires will be solved. In New South Wales, under the present scheme, 90% of the Commonwealth’s grant to the State was spent on rural roads. But the new scheme provides for an increase in the grant for urban roads. It should be remembered that most of the big cities have resulted from a lack of decentralisation within the States concerned. In my opinion it is foolish to build up huge cities and to allow much of our country and coastal areas to be denuded of population. I have spoken previously of the fact that the rectangle based on a line joining Wollongong and Newcastle and extending SO miles inland could not possibly be missed by any potential enemy using nuclear or atomic weapons.
I do not know why we follow the trends overseas. It is about time the State governments realised that there are places other than the capital cities. The inland cities can and should be developed on a more economic basis than the capital cities. [Quorum formed.] It should be noted that very few honourable members opposite were present when the quorum was called for and there are not many present now. This has been the general state of affairs on most sitting days. Quite a number of members opposite have gone home by now. Under the present arrangements all aid roads money received by a State during a financial year either must be expended or set aside for expenditure by the State within the year in question. Those moneys set aside within the financial year must be expended within 6 months of the end of that year. A similar provision has been incorporated in the new arrangements. However a State which has difficulty in spending part of its grant within the required time may seek an extension of the period by applying to the Treasurer. In addition an amount of the principal grant payable for expenditure on one of the classes of road may be approved by the Minister for Shipping and Transport for expenditure on a different class road. This is where the difficulty has come about in the classifications. Portion of a road, for instance, may be classified as a class 3 road and a few miles further on the road may be in a different class.
I understand that the Minister will be the arbiter as to what classifications these roads will take. Of course, he will be advised by the State road authorities but he will be the sole arbiter and it would seem to me, from discussions that I have had with shire councillors, that difficulties will arise as to those roads classified as class 3. I am sure that the Minister will realise the difficulty that shire councils have in constructing and reconstructing these roads, but he will be able to relieve the burden of those shires which have a surfeit of these roads. I am pleased to be a member of the party that has had the foresight and determination to bring in a Bill such as this. Before I conclude I should like to refer to a delegation of shire councillors which came to Canberra. One shire councillor pulled me to one side and said: ‘We haven’t one bad road in the whole of our shire’. I said to him: Well, what are you down here protesting for?’ and his reply was: ‘If we don’t protest we won’t get any more money’. That is human nature, but I think that everybody will agree that over the past 10 years the roads in New South Wales have improved and the extra money that the States will get will enable suburban roads, which have not received the attention that they should have received in the past, to be brought up to the standard of other roads that have been properly maintained. I commend the Bill to the House.
Motion (by Dr Patterson) put:
That the debate be now adjourned.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker - Mr J. M. Hallett)
Question so resolved in the negative.
– For the sake of perspective, I think it is as well at the outset to compare the levels of expenditure by the Commonwealth-
– A point of order. The honourable member for Dawson had the call.
Order! The honourable member for Dawson did not rise. I called the honourable member for Calare.
– I will commence again and say that for the sake of perspective I think it is as well at this stage in considering the Bill to compare the amount of Commonwealth funds given to the States for roads over the past number of years. I go back to the period 20 years ago, 1948-49, when $14,202,000 was the total of the Commonwealth funds given to the States. Ten years later a total of $309m was given to the States for the 5 years between 1954 and 1959. In the next quinquennium an amount of $500m was provided. In the 1964-69 quinquennium an amount of $750m was provided. The legislation before us raises the total to $l,252m for all States excluding the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory. This is a massive increase of 67% over the amount provided in the previous quinquennium. The amounts payable each year over the period to which I have referred range from $ 1 4.2m to $3 16.8m. If we add to that the money spent on beef cattle roads and special projects such as the Gordon River road, it is a tremendous amount of money and one of which this Government can be justifiably proud.
Of course, there has been progress right throughout the country. I think that any country member who cares to take statistics from his shires, as I have done, will see that there has been tremendous progress in this period. The amount which is provided under this Bill is a mere 2.2% less than what the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads recommended. I think it is fair to say that it is a surprising amount. It would appear that the State Premiers went away from the Premiers’ Conference surprised and satisfied. I am assured by Ministers, including the Treasurer (Mr McMahon), that the State Premiers did not press any substantial amendments. So we can take it that at this stage the States are satisfied with the gross total of funds coming from the Commonwealth. And so am I. I take it that at the conclusion of the Premiers’ Conference the State Premiers were satisfied with the distribution as between the States. And so am I. I have no reason to feel otherwise. We heard no significant protest from the Premiers about distribution within the States. That is the third angle. In fact I am informed that there were no protests by the Premiers about distribution within the States.
At this point I start to disagree. I consider it my duty in this House to record the many protests which have come to me. They include protests from the eight shires with headquarters in my electorate, other local government bodies, political organisations, a few individuals, the Press in a number of cases in its capacity as an instrument reflecting the wishes of the people, progress associations, ratepayers associations, regional development committees and industry organisations. All those have written to me about this matter and I have represented their views to the Ministers concerned. The Government made its decision, having as its guide one major factor - the report of the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads. [Quorum formed.] When I was interrupted I had pointed out that the Government made its decision having as its guide the report of the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads. Much has been said by previous speakers and much will be said by following speakers about this report.
I think that at this stage I should say something about the road needs survey which was conducted in 1967-68. I point out that we are discussing this Bill while that report is not yet complete. Further information will be provided to us in a document entitled ‘Australian Road Systems of 1968’. I particularly look to the information in that document about the cost benefit survey that has been made. The report of the Bureau of Roads is the basis upon which this Bill was framed; it is the basis upon which the Government made its decision. I think I should recall some of the protests made by shire councils. Letters of protest and presidential minutes from shires were forwarded to me as a result of a statement attributed to the New South
Wales Minister for Local Government, which appeared in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ of 29th March 1967. Whatever we think about the statement now, the objection is not raised for the first time at this moment; the objection arose 2 years ago or earlier. The Minister’s statement was interpreted as indicating a strong move to break down the present 40% allocation of Commonwealth aid roads money to rural councils. The report of the National Association of Australian State Road Authorities and the road needs survey of the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads came next. They caused a reaction by every council in my electorate and by many councils in New South Wales. I cannot go beyond that from personal experience. The shires urged me, in short, not to lose sight of the problems of the shires and not to lose sight of the vast distances they have to cover and their heavy dependence on all-weather traffic.
Although much has been said about the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads report, not very much has been said about the tremendous work which has been done by the shires, the great expense load on the shires and the field work undertaken over and above the normal engineering duties to make this report possible. Their main problem was the adoption of tolerable standards by the Bureau of Roads. I would like to look at one or two of the most important standards. Firstly there is the tolerable safe travel speed. I will read to the House the definition of a tolerable safe travel speed. It is a speed which would be adopted in the prevailing traffic conditions by a conscientious, experienced law abiding driver unfamiliar with the locality so that he could travel the road concerned correctly positioned on the roadway and in confidence that traffic situations likely to arise could be handled calmly. Dare I say at this stage that such a person would be a normal driver?
If we look at some of the tolerable speeds that were laid down and on which the whole report and the Bill were prepared, we find that on a class 3 road the highest tolerable speed is 45 miles per hour for flat country and 35 miles per hour in undulating country. For class 4 roads, which constitute substantially the bulk of shire roads, the tolerable speed is 35 miles per hour. This means that in the great bulk of shire roads, provided a vehicle can travel at 35 miles per hour no realignment or resurfacing is required. In my view, the adoption of these standards as tolerable standards is a retrograde step. They are, in fact, intolerable.
The definition provides that no sealing is warranted for roads which carry less than 100 vehicles per day, and only 16 feet of gravel surface is permitted. Single lane sealing is provided for roads which carry up to 140 vehicles a day. AH road authorities will tell us that whilst single lane sealing can be carried out quickly and fairly cheaply it presents a great danger to traffic. This type of sealing causes a lot of our highways to be referred to as crystal highways because of the amount of glass that is left along the side of these roads from broken windscreens and headlamps. The standard for single lane bridges is a traffic load of up to 100 vehicles per day. In my opinion single lane bridges should be prohibited in this country. 1 think I am a little less tolerant than the Shires Association of New South Wales which permits single lane bridges on access roads which have a rate of sixteen vehicles per day. Although 16-foot pavements in New South Wales were abandoned 16 years ago, the road needs survey sets this as a tolerable standard in certain cases. Single lane 12-foot roads are a menace to traffic safety. [Quorum formed.] The people on whose behalf I speak and to whom this legislation is of great importance are most interested, I know from great experience, to learn just who is on their side. I think they can see from the attendance of members of the Opposition in this House tonight just who is not on their side. I repeat that single lane 12-foot trafficways are considered to be a menace to traffic safety. They are entirely unsuitable in undulating or hilly country and, contrary to a lot of beliefs, they are highly expensive to maintain.
I could go on with a number of other features of the tolerable standards set out in the survey. Suffice it to say there are many experts about who constantly tell people in the country to get with it, to be a little sophisticated and to make themselves efficient. I say that for modern inland traffic, which consists largely of heavy transport traffic, and for agricultural machinery, which is moving about on rubber tyres to a greater and greater degree, the tolerable standards laid down in the road needs survey are intolerable. It is not just something new which has occurred to me. Right back in 1967 I addressed a question to the then Minister for Shipping and Transport asking him whether he realised that this survey was causing real concern to local government bodies and whether he considered that unrealistic tolerable standards of engineering and road speeds provided a seriously misleading view of the position. He replied, in short, that he did not and finished by saying:
I suggest to the honourable member that we should all possess our souls in patience…..
This would have been very nice but 2 years ago there were a lot of people who were not prepared to possess their souls in patience. This is the kind of answer that endears the Minister to many private members. The next week the honourable member for Cowper asked a more detailed question on the same matter and he got the answer - . . the Government cannot be regarded as being irrevocably committed to the division of Australian road funds which requires 40% to be spent on rural roads…..
That was 2 years ago so the die was well on the way to being cast.
The Bill deals with the allocation within the States as set out in the schedules. Two noticeable features come to mind. First of all over $600m out of $l,252m - close enough to 50% - goes to urban arterial roads under an entirely new policy on the part of this Government. No-one would disagree that there is great need for funds to be spent in urban areas in the major capital cities. Anyone who has moved there, driving his own vehicle, travelling by public transport, or even wanting to cross the street, will agree. The Treasurer (Mr McMahon) in his second reading speech says that this is a new policy and that for the first time these Commonwealth funds will be set aside specifically for this purpose - the construction of major urban roads. The need is readily seen. The figure of 50%, however, seems to me to be quite a bit too high. Tt will be interesting to see the reports at the end of the year as they come in under the proposed legislation to see how much of the $600m will be spent on reclamation work.
The second feature - and this has been brought in before but for the sake of rounding off my argument I repeat it - is that taking 1968-69 as the base year the Bill increases the amount for certain rural roads by 5% per annum compound. I have used the expression ‘certain rural roads’ for a purpose. The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), in a statement made on 13th March, used the term and I shall quote his words:
I do not want to get tangled up in definitions but I want to point out the difference between that statement and the phrase used in the Treasurer’s second reading speech. He used the expression ‘rural roads other than arterial roads’. We know by the definitions in the beginning of the Bill that it is competent for the Minister to specify what are rural arterial roads. That means that the remainder, of course, must be matched up with the terms which the Prime Minister used. I say now that we people in the country look to the Minister to see that when these definitions are finalised the terms of the statement of the Prime Minister on 13th March and the terms used in the Bill will coincide. The rural population and shire councils can now look forward to only a 5% increase and I emphasise that this is on today’s values. What of 1973-74? I should like to take the first note in the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads report. 1 cannot tell the House which page it is on because the pages are not numbered but note 4 on recommendation 1 which is on the second coloured page says that a provision for future cost rises in respect of road works at a rate of about 2.5% per annum would be appropriate. So they mention there 2.5%. But if we go a little further in the main report we see a note which reads:
A rate of price increase of 3.5% per annum, the average rate for public works for this purpose, has been used to convert from current prices to constant prices in this Table.
The Bureau itself used a figure of 3.5% per annum increase. So when we subtract this from the 5% which is coming it can be seen that no great change is going to take place in finance for rural roads. I could quote from quite a number of documents. The Treasurer, in a speech at Bathurst on 9th May referred to the consumer price index and to weekly earnings rising by 6.3%. I am not an advocate of low wages, but I mention that to give emphasis to the fact that the cost of the construction of roads will increase because the labour factor is quite a substantial one. The Treasurer referred to the inflationary trend which is still continuing and said it was the No. 1 economic problem. The speech of the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony), when opening the United Graziers Association Conference, covered three pages in dealing with inflation, not only as to its causes but also as to who should be dealing with it. These factors all give weight to the argument that costs are going to rise.
I could refer to a number of other sources but I do not think it is altogether necessary to bring out my point that for the shire councillor faced with a budget in the future the 5% increase is not going to do much more than just hold the line. All these figures are given to show that there can be little, if any, acceleration in the construction of rural roads. It will be largely a matter of the status quo. I see no increase occurring in the country work force and I see no increase in the number of shire jobs available. At this late hour I feel that I can cut down a little on what I was going to say but there are quite a number of aspects of this most important subject to the people I represent that I would have liked to touch upon. I direct attention to two matters merely to let the people in rural areas know with whom they are dealing. I refer to the News and Views of the Australian Motor Industry’ as set out in the ‘Commonwealth Automotive Review’. This publication states:
The present policy of requiring States to spend not less than 40% of Commonwealth road moneys on rural side roads . . .
That is its term, not mine–
There we have the view of the motor industry itself. Then in the next issue - still with the same number, which shows how efficient it is - the following statement appears:
Not only have the allocations been inadequate, but a completely unrealistic condition has until now been imposed: viz. - The provision that at least 40% of the grants had to be spent on rural roads other than main highways connecting major centres of population.
I think that the users of the motors of all types in rural areas should keep those remarks in mind. I also have here another publication put out by the Australian Automobile Association which points out that:
Traffic engineers estimate that the cost of congestion on Australian roads runs as high as SI. 000m per year.
That is one of the best arguments I have ever seen for decentralisation, and I take it as such. The publication also states:
The provision in the present Commonwealth Aid Road Act, under which 40% of funds provided to the States have to be spent on rural roads, should be reviewed. 1 think the people in country areas should know that this comes from the Australian Automobile Association, which has as constituent members every major motor organisation in every State, including in New South Wales the National Roads and Motorists Association. I wonder what the NRMA delegate to this body was doing when that motion was passed? The Australian Automobile Association claims to represent some 2 million Australian motorists on various organisations, and one of those organisations is the Australian Road Safety Council. What with 12-foot bridges and 12-foot carriageways, I think that somebody has slipped up somewhere.
I shall have a quick look at the accident figures for the State of New South Wales, which were the only ones available to me today. The latest figures available are for the 12 months ended 30th June 1963, and they show that the number of accidents in the County of Cumberland was far greater than that outside the County of Cumberland. But the number killed outside the County of Cumberland was far in excess - by 681 to 493 - of those within the county. This accident rate is undoubtedly due to the density of traffic, and the high death rate or the more serious character of the accidents in the country are, in my opinion and in the opinion of many other people, including the Road Safety Council, caused by the less favourable relationship or juxtaposition between the traffic speed on the one hand and traffic engineering on the other. Perhaps it is time for us to look at the people who deal with these particular matters and put out this particular material. Perhaps it is time for the rural motorists - the stock transport drivers, the longdistance transport drivers, the commercial lorry drivers and interstate transport drivers - to get together, have a look at who is representing them, and possibly make some other arrangements.
I conclude by saying that 1 dismiss the amendment, for this reason: It is quite unrealistic to ask the Government to alter a long-standing policy - a policy for which it has a reason - just as a result of an Opposition amendment to a Bill. I agree wholeheartedly with the grand total that has been provided. I have heard no adverse comment, or very little adverse comment, on that particular point. 1 have no reason to disagree with the distribution between the States, but I have to record on behalf of the people who have been in contact with me strong objection to the distribution that has been made within the States. Overall, however, I am in a position where I must support the Bill. The weight is in its favour. I agree with the first two factors; so far as the third is concerned, it has been said that this is not a contractual agreement. Maybe it is not, but it is however an agreement that has already been entered into by the Prime Minister on the one hand and the State Premiers on the other, without any substantial amendments being made. In fact, there have been no amendments with regard to distribution within the State. A firm public announcement has already been made to the people by the Prime Minister, and the various sectors that are affected know about the proposed allocation. I think it would be completely unrealistic to expect a reallocation of funds at this stage. No additional funds could reasonably be expected to be fed into the rural sector. I therefore support the Bill.
– The hour is late and 1 think the details of this Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement have been covered fully by many speakers. However, there are a couple of things that I wish to say. The first thing that 1 should like to do is offer my congratulations to the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads on its reports. All too often we see first-class reports pigeonholed and perhaps forgotten. Therefore it is good to see an excellent report adopted and implemented with such alacrity. I congratulate the Government on that.
I think this is the first time that a truly objective look has been taken at our whole road problem. There is no doubt that one of the greatest needs in the country is a first class road system. Such a system is essential for primary industry to get its products to the centres of population and to the ports for export. It is essential for secondary industry to distribute its products to the consumer market and, of course, it reduces costs to the consumer. So a good road system has an effect far beyond the immediate area that it serves. It was somebody in America who first said that good roads do not cost, they pay. By enabling a better use of resources, they reduce costs and therefore pay their way.
I am glad to see that in the new agreement very much closer attention will be paid to the various classes of roads and the new series of classifications. This aspect has been dealt with previously by honourable members in this debate. There is no doubt that it will enable more precise answers to be given to the question as to the types or classifications of roads that will need special consideration and how much that special consideration should be. There is an obvious requirement for more and better urban roads and freeways. There is a point here that I would like to bring up and it is expressed in the rather clumsy phrase ‘the diseconomies of scale’. There is no doubt that when cities reach a certain size the cost of providing roads, power and all the public services becomes so large that it is cheaper to provide the services in other areas. As cities get bigger, one of the largest of these costs arises from the provision of the freeway system. Some evidence is coming from America to show that the cities there have already reached the size of diseconomies of scale, and I have no doubt that the same position will be reached in Australia. We must be ready to recognise this effect when it starts to appear and give serious consideration to providing the essential services in decentralised areas.
I am particularly concerned, as many honourable members who have taken part in this debate have been, at the elimination of the requirement to spend 40% of the Commonwealth grant for roads on other rural roads and on this question of classification by the Minister. Everything depends, of course, on his classification of what are rural arterial roads. Until we know what the arterial roads are, we will not know exactly how rauch money will be available for the other rural roads. My understanding is that these ministerial classifications will be reviewed annually, so that if it is seen that there is an inequitable situation at least it need not persist for more than 12 months. It can be rectified at the annual review. I am also pleased to see that, while the general increase in funds was 67%, Victoria’s increase was 73%. I am pleased to see this recognition at last of Victoria’s need for a fairer share. There is no doubt that Victoria has been penalised for many years by the old formula.
– That is not so.
– Of course it has. This new larger percentage for Victoria is a clear recognition of that position. The other classification I was interested to see is that of urban arterial roads, which applies to Melbourne, Bendigo, Geelong and Ballarat. This should provide a welcome boost to the possibility of these provincial cities building the very much needed ring type of arterial roads around them. We must remember that even a grand total of $ 1,252m from the Commonwealth for roads represents approximately only one-third of the total amount which will be available for roads, about 66% of the amount required coming from the States. By assuming increased responsibilty for urban roads and freeways the Commonwealth has made it possible for the States to spend very much more on other road projects. I sincerely hope that this will result in substantial State funds being available for areas such as rural roads, which I mentioned a moment ago and which at the moment seem to be something of a grey area until ministerial decisions are made. These other rural roads have not shared in the increased Commonwealth grants to anything like the same extent as other classes of roads. They have received about a 5% compound annual increase as against an increase overall of 67%. To maintain an adequate level of spending on rural roads substantial funds will be needed from the States to complement grants from the Commonwealth. I hope that this fact will not be lost sight of by the States when they come to make their allocations.
Debate (on motion by Mr Corbett) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr Swartz) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
– Before the House adjourns I should like to protest on behalf of the Opposition at the Government’s conduct during the course of the day. Under the forms of the House we were allowed to have a motion appear on the notice paper, but then the weight of numbers was used to prevent discussion of that motion and to prevent the matter arising again in the course of this session. Later in the day the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) made a short statement on the matter by leave. When an Opposition member rose to say something on the matter the forms of the House were invoked and one voice was sufficient to prevent him from speaking. We have seen the spectacle this evening of a debate dragging on almost into the next day.
I think it is time that the Government realised that this is a parliament and not just the plaything for the weight of numbers. The Opposition feels that today certain things are going on in Australia which are critical to this country’s industrial future and that, of all places, the national Parliament should have been the forum where some aspects of this matter were raised. I understand that because the Government does not have the weight of numbers in another place the matters which are denied ventilation here have been debated there for a considerable number of hours. I make this statement by way of protest on behalf of the Opposition at the way the business in what is supposed to be a parliament - a representative assembly - is being conducted.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.54 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
To what foreign companies and for what amounts and purposes has permission been given in the last 3 years to raise fixed interest borrowings in excess of Sim other than those the Prime Minister mentioned in his speech of 25lh February (Hansard, page 22)?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Companies wholly or substantially owned by overseas interests have been requested to consult the Reserve Bank before negotiating loans from any source in Australia. Information supplied to the Reserve Bank in these consultations is confidential, unless made public by the companies concerned.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
What has been the expenditure on capital works installed at Amberley and on equipment located there since the decision was made to station F-111C aircraft there?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
A recently published survey of 706 Army personnel aged 17-29 years showed that each of the persons in the survey had been affected by dental decay. The average number of decayed, missing or filled teeth per person was 19.4. An earlier investigation of the dental condition of a group of persons serving in the Australian Military Forces in 1960 showed a similar result.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s questions is as follows: 1 and 2. Estimated Commonwealth payments to the rural manufacturing and mining industries in 1968-69, together with the amount of such payments in each year since 1949-50, are shown in the following table:
Copper and Brass Strip Bounty
Flax Fibre Bounty
Rayon Yarn Bounty
Vinyl Resin Bounty
Wheat Bounty- Stockfeed
Wool Products Bounty
Wine Exports Bounty
Flax Canvas Bounty
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Consolidated Revenue Fund: Expenditure (Excluding Business Undertakings and Expenditure of a Capital Nature).
Percentage increases on preceding year:
It might be noted that in order to provide information that is analogous to that given for the States it has been necessary to exclude items of a capital nature from the expenditure figures. This is because these items are not usually included to any significant extent in the Consolidated Revenue Fund expenditures of the various States.
In providing the information on State revenues and expenditures, I indicated that, for a number of reasons, the figures were not fully comparable as between States or as between years. For the same reasons, the figures given earlier for the States are not fully comparable with the figures now presented in respect of the two mainland Territories. No attempt has therefore been made to distinguish between ‘local government’ and ‘State government’ type expenditures and revenues.
It is also pointed out that changes in accounting arrangements can affect the comparability of the figures as between Territories. For example, the significant percentage increase in Northern Territory revenue in 1967-68 is mainly the result of an accounting change whereby payments previously credited to appropriations were brought to account as revenue.
The revenue collected by the Commonwealth (other than for business undertakings) in the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory is paid to the Consolidated Revenue Fund and is not applied directly to Territorial expenditures as these are financed from the Commonwealth Budget. Because of this, it is not possible to provide figures for the Territories that are analogous to Commonwealth grants to the States. It is, however, possible to relate revenues derived in the Territories to expenditures and this is done in the following table:
Revenue Derived in Territories as a Percentage of Expenditure (Excluding Business Undertakings and Expenditure of a Capital Nature).
Housing of Darwin Work Force (Question No. 1369)
asked the Minister for the
Interior, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: 1 and 2. No figures are available. Neither the Bureau of Census and Statistics nor the Northern Territory Administration (in regard to that Territory) maintains records of the number of people living in caravans. Reliable information on the present situationin Darwin could only be obtained by a physical inspection of all leases and inquiries to the owners and occupants of all caravans.
er asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
What amounts have been received by the Commonwealth in each of the past 5 completed financial years as land rent paid by lessees of land within the city area of Canberra and the rural areas and villages within the Australian Capital Territory?
– The answer to the honourable member’s Question is as follows:
Amounts do not include land rent components in rentals of Commonwealth-owned cottages.
er asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
What total amounts have been received by the Commonwealth in each of the past5 completed financial years as ‘premiums’ on leases in the Australian Capital Territory either purchased at auction sales of leases or by tender?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
er asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
What total amounts have been received by the Commonwealth in each of the past 5 completed financial years in respect of (a) motor vehicle registrations in the Australian Capital Territory, (b) motor vehicle driving licences issued in the Territory and (c) all other types of licence and registration fees or charges in the Territory?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
Can he give details in table form, for each year from and including 1950, of expenditures in relation to national product, expressed as percentages of the gross national product, under the following heads: (a) Personal consumption, (b) Government consumption (i) Defence and (ii) Civil, (c) Total consumption, (d) Gross domestic capital formation, (e) Domestic expenditures, (0 Exports (including income from abroad), (g) Imports (including income paid abroad) and (h) Gross national product?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Details of the components of gross national expenditure and the gross national product are available over the period requested for financial years only. Most of these figures may be found in the following publications: 1949-50 to 1952-53- Australian National Accounts, National Income and Expenditure, 1948-49 to 1964-65 (table 2); 1953-54 to 1957-58- Australian National Accounts, National Income and Expenditure, 1953-54 to 1966-67 (table 2); 1958-59 to 1967-68- Australian National Accounts, 1967-68, Preliminary Statement No. 1, Gross National Product at Current and Constant Prices (table 1).
Gross domestic capital formation’ is equal to the sum of gross fixed capital expenditure (private, public enterprises and public authorities) and increase in the value of stocks. ‘Government consumption’ is net current expenditure on goods and services by public authorities and ‘domestic expenditure’ is gross national expenditure.
Information not contained in the tables mentioned above comprises:
the breakdown of government consumption into ‘defence’ and ‘civil’. Defence expenditures are as follows ($m):
These figures include an adjustment made for the purposes of the national accounts; equipment purchased overseas is included in the period when delivered, not when paid for.
Civil’ expenditures may be derived by the deduction of the above series from total public authorities net current expenditure.
The percentage relationships requested have not been published nor have they been calculated by the Commonwealth Statistician. However, the publications referred to above are available in the Parliamentary Library. I would draw the honourable member’s attention to the services provided by the Legislative Research Service.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
Can he supply in table form, for each year from and including 1950, particulars of the following:
Personal income as a percentage of the gross national product,
Disposable income after payment of income taxes as a percentage of personal income,
Percentage of disposable income and
Personal savings as a percentage of dispossible income?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Details of the items mentioned by the honourable member for financial years since 1949-50 may be found in the following publications: 1949-50 to 1952-53-
Australian National Accounts, National Income and Expenditure, 1948-49 to 1964-65:
Gross National Product, Table 2.
Personal Income, Table 32.
Personal Disposable Income, Table 32.
Personal Consumption Expenditure, Table 2.
Personal Saving, Table 5. 1953-54 to 1957-58-
Australian National Accounts, National Income and Expenditure, 1948-49 to 1966-67:
Gross National Product, Table 2.
Personal Income, Table 32.
Personal Disposable Income, Table 32.
Personal Consumption Expenditure, Table 2.
Personal Saving, Table 5. 1958-59 to 1967-68-
Australian National Accounts 1967-68, Preliminary Statement No. 1, Gross National Product at Current and Constant Prices:
Gross National Product, Table 1.
Personal Consumption Expenditure, Table 1.
Australian National Accounts 1967-68, Preliminary Statement No. 2, Personal Income by States:
Personal Income, Table 3.
Personal Disposable Income, Table 3.
Estimates of personal saving since 1958-59 (in $m) are as follows:
The percentage relationships requested have not been published nor have they been calculated by the Commonwealth Statistician.
asked the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice: 1, Has the Committee of Inquiry into salaries to be paid in Colleges of Advanced Education yet submitted its report?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Edu cation and Science, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
No expenditure on rental or hire has been incurred for land occupied by the Australian Force in Vietnam or for helicopter support provided by the United States Forces.
asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
Will he arrange for an early election to fill the vacancies on the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council? If not, why not?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
There is little point in arranging for an early election as in accordance with provisions of the Advisory Council Ordinance, 1936-1967, persons so elected could not assume office until 1st October 1970. However, I have invited any of the members elected to the current Advisory Council and who resigned recently to accept nomination to the Council until the next election.
Airfield Facilities at Learmonth (Question No. 1473)
asked the Minister for Air, upon notice:
What has been the expenditure on taxiways, hardstandings and other essential services at Learmonth since the defence review of 10th November 19647
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Civil Defence (Question No. 1478)
asked the Minister for the
Interior, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
First Aid and Ambulance service
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
Will he move for the exemption from sales tax, by amending sections 63a and 63b (1) of the Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Act 1935- 1966, of goods sold by a school or university, or by a society, institution or organisation not carried on for the profit of an individual, where those goods are certified by such a school or university as educational materials required by teachers to be purchased by students?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
It is the practice of the Government to consider the many requests it receives each year for new and increased taxation concessions during the preparation of the annual Budget when the scope for concessions can be properly assessed. Accordingly, the proposal referred to by the honourable member will be listed for consideration during the preparation of the 1969-70 Budget.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Commonwealth has agreed to assist the Queensland Government in financing expenditure on certain drought relief measures. These measures include the provision of:
For 1968-69, The Commonwealth has agreed to meet one-half of expenditure up to $4m, and the whole of expenditure beyond that amount, on such relief measures. Commonwealth assistance takes the form of loans where the State itself makes loans and grants where the Slate makes grants.
Thus, the Commonwealth is providing assistance, in the form of grants, in respect of freight rebates on the movement of stock from drought areas before they are declared ‘starving’.
There are special provisions in the Commonwealth Income Tax Assessment Act which relate to expenditures by primary producers on fencing and fodder storage facilities.
asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice:
Has consideration been given to establishing a tribunal to decide appeals against the refusal of age or invalid pensions under the Social Services
Act similar to the Assessment Appeal Tribunals which decide appeals against the refusal of service pensions under the Repatriation Act?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The question of establishing an appeals tribunal has been raised from time to time. However, after careful consideration, the conclusion has been reached that the present practice of reviewing departmental decisions on receipt of representations to the Minister, or the Department, which are treated as appeals, generally works well. The establishment of a statutory tribunal could well introduce elements of rigidity and delay that would not be to the advantage of pensioners, particularly those of advanced age. All honourable members are familiar with the administration of the present system and if a member provides particulars of any unsatisfactory application of the relevant provisions of the Social Services Act a further review will be made of this matter.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 20 May 1969, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1969/19690520_reps_26_hor63/>.