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Wednesday, 16 March 1977
Page: 243


Mr DRUMMOND (FORREST, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) -My question is directed to the Minister for Transport. He will be aware of criticism by local government and the State Government of Western Australia of the level of road funding provided by the Commonwealth. Can the Minister indicate the level of funds that will be provided by the Commonwealth under the roads legislation to be introduced during the current session? Will local government in particular get a better deal as a result of the Government's decision on the allocation of funds for roads in 1977-78? Can the Minister also comment on the level of direction given to State governments by the Commonwealth regarding the distribution of federal funds for roads?


Mr NIXON (GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA) (Minister for Transport) -I have to say at the outset that there has been a great deal of ill-informed comment on the allocation of road funds in Western Australia. I can assure the honourable member that there has been a real increase in funds made available for local government. He will recall that in January this year we announced that an extra $3.2m was to go to Western Australia. Of that amount, $1.2m went to local government authorities. As well as that, from Western Australia 's share of the extra funds made available late last year, $1.4m went to local authorities. Even including those 2 sums on top of last year's grant, there is an increase in funds for next year, as will be seen from the legislation when I introduce it, of 18.7 per cent for rural local government authorities and of 53 per cent for urban local government authorities. This is part of an approach which we have taken as a government to assist local government authorities, as part of the espoused policy of the Government, the federalist policy announced by the Prime Minister in the election campaign.

I should point out that there have been complaints in Western Australia about a reduction in the urban arterial funds. I again make the point that I made yesterday that in point of fact the Commonwealth contribution for urban arterial development in Perth has been running at 85 to 90 per cent. The figures for last year in respect of urban arterial development show that the Commonwealth put in $20.3m, and the State put in a mere $3.5m. If the Western Australian Government is as concerned as it says it is about the construction of the Kwinana Freeway and other freeways in Perth we believe that it should put something like SO per cent of its funds into urban arterial development. Insofar as the dictation of the Commonwealth in respect of the expenditure of this money is concerned, we have laid down categories for the Commonwealth funds. The total funds made available to Western Australia are $60.2m. That requires a contribution by the State of $40.2m. We do not in any way tell the State how to spend its $40.2m. The State is completely free to allocate its $40.2m to any road category that it wishes. In that sense the Commonwealth is not dictating to the States in respect of the expenditure of the moneys. The final point I should make is that part of the comment running in Western Australia is that the percentage share of funds made available to Western Australia has not been sufficient. I point out to the honourable member that the percentage share of funds to each of the States is based on a Bureau of Roads report, not on some arbitrary decision taken by me as Minister or by the Government in Canberra. .







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