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Wednesday, 15 May 1957

Mr TURNER (Bradfield) .- I regret having the necessity of referring again to the proposed method of using certain Commonwealth land at Bradfield. It may be recalled that two or three weeks ago I had occasion to refer to the proposal of the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) to erect a dump, or what is technically called a primary works depot, in that locality. The circumstances are that shortly before the war this area was being developed as a first-class residential district, and that development has since continued. The Royal Australian Air Force acquired the area during the war for the purposes of a reception and embarkation depot. The local people did not object to that, of course, in war-time.

Subsequently, another emergency arose, namely, the housing emergency at the end of the war, and again the people did not object strenuously to the use for housing purposes of the huts erected by the Royal Australian Air Force on that land. But it was always understood that this Commonwealth land would ultimately be used for its proper purpose, namely, residential purposes, and indeed the plan was that the War Service Homes Division should have it for development for residences for ex-servicemen. Now, as I said, the PostmasterGeneral has decided not to proceed with this idea of establishing the dump or works depot in that area, and I am glad to be able to express to the PostmasterGeneral my appreciation of the very proper decision that he made, after an inspection of the area had been made by the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Fairhall).

But that proposal having come to an end, the Department of the Interior is proposing to establish a television studio in the area. Having seen details of the actual proposal, the design of the building that it is suggested should be erected, its area and so forth, I say that quite plainly this would be the beginning of the use of this land as a factory area.

Mr Howse - For whom is it to be erected?

Mr TURNER - For the Department of the Interior.

Mr Howse - What will it cost?

Mr TURNER - I do not know what it will cost. Although it is stated in a letter from the chief property officer of the Department of the Interior to the Kuringgai Municipal Council that the long-range plan for the use of this area is that it should be taken over by the War Service Homes Division for the construction of homes for ex-servicemen, it is quite plain that there is no binding undertaking in that regard. It is quite plain that that ultimate idea could be scrapped by a subsequent Minister or by another government, so the local people are concerned, and rightly concerned, at the establishment of a type of superior factory as a precedent.

So, on behalf of the local residents, who have my emphatic support, I say that I believe that it would be quite an indecent thing for the Government to proceed in this way. As a matter of good faith, the land should be retained for the purpose for which it was originally intended. It should be used for residences and, being Commonwealth land, it should be used for homes for ex-servicemen. The Minister for the Interior has inspected the area, and I think he is fully aware of the situation and cannot but be convinced that the proper use of this type of land is for residential purposes. I know that in war-time certain things are done on a temporary basis, and afterwards it is often impossible to unscramble the eggs, but that is no reason why, when the Government can keep faith with the people, as it can in this case, faith should not be kept.

I do not believe that governments should be entitled to do things that private people could not do. It would be impossible, having regard to the zoning arrangements of the Cumberland County Council, for any private citizen to establish a factory or industrial undertaking in that area. Why then should it be possible for a government to do precisely that? A legal maxim prevails that the King can do no wrong. Legally it is quite possible for the Government to do as it proposes to do, but in the interests of decency and fair dealing with the people, the Government should be bound by the moral, and indeed legal, obligations that bind the ordinary private citizens. So I ask that the Minister for the Interior should reconsider this proposal, and establish a studio for the film division associated with the Department at a more suitable place, for example, at Pagewood or French's Forest, where already there are certain film studios in a properly zoned industrial area. I know that the Minister, with whom I have had discussions on this matter, is unavoidably absent from the House at the moment, but I ask the Minister in charge of the House to convey my observations to him.

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