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Tuesday, 23 May 1939

Debate resumed from the 19 th May {vide page 594), on motion by Mr. Casey -

That the bill be now read a second time.

Mr. BLAIR(Northern Territory) |"3.48]. - When the House adjourned last week, I was pointing out that, although this bill is called the Supply and Development Bill, there is a danger that those functions contemplated under the word " development " will be swamped by the activities associated with supply. This danger will continue to exist until the meaning and importance of "regionalism" is better appreciated. This is a much misunderstood and neglected term, though every member representing an outlying area should know that he is committed to foster the regional development of the district he represents. So that honorable members will know what regionalism means, and understand that it is not merely a fantastic term, I propose to refer to what is being done in this connexion in other countries, .and particularly in France, one of the most united, and best developed countries in the world. The following is an extract from an article by Professor Roberts, of the Sydney University, published in the Australian Geographer: -

In the question of French regionalism factors of history, geography, race, economics and administration all blend together, although geography is the final factor (in that it determines economics and in the past mainly determined history), and the whole significance of the question is that it illustrates geographical determinism over a long period of time.

The modern problem dates from the conflict of two opposed theories at the time of the French Revolution. The basis of the Ancien Regime was the provincial organization, for the provinces corresponded to profound differences in race, history, customs, laws, fiscal regimes and spirit. The old provinces, indeed, appeared to be increasingly vigorous in the years immediately preceding the Revolution, and the provincial assemblies had recently been strengthened in order to check the civil intendants. In point of fact, the provinces had no legal existence, for the whole stress was one the forty gouvernments, and the monarchy had already evolved the idea of extreme centralization as its most effective weapon.

Mr Brennan - I hope Professor Roberts is a better authority on regionalism in France than on national politics.

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