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Tuesday, 16 April 1985
Page: 1037

Senator FOREMAN —Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Transport been drawn to the criticism by the States of the Federal Government's recently announced road funding package? If so, what is the Government's defence to the accusations that, firstly, there is not enough money and, secondly, large city arterial projects will be slowed down?

Senator GIETZELT —I have seen such criticism, coming largely from the State governments. The Commonwealth Government believes such criticism is quite outrageous and unnecessarily exaggerated, given the way in which the Government's approach to road funding has been developed in the two years we have been in office. In fact, I believe that the Government's record in road funding generally is quite beyond criticism. Government road funding has been drastically increased. A record sum of $1,245m has been allocated for road works in the next financial year, which is 50 per cent more than the sum made available in the last Fraser Budget in 1982-83. This has been achieved in the face of very stringent budgetary constraints and the fairly tough circumstances which prevailed when this Government came to office.

It is interesting that, as Senator Foreman's question indicates, this criticism has come from the State governments. Local government is to get a 5 per cent increase and, of course, we are going to have an almost similar increase, I think 4.75 per cent, in funding for our national roads and highways system. This means that the arterial roads, for which the State governments have responsibility, will profit very considerably from the increases that I have referred to. It is true that the Government would like to be in a position to make considerably more funds available because it would assist job creation and it would assist the States and the community generally to have a better road system. That is an objective with which we have no disagreement. However, we have to say that if State Ministers want more money for State roads, in addition to the additional funds that this Government has provided, they will have to find it from their own State resources.