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Thursday, 5 April 1973
Page: 1171

Mr HALLETT (Canning) - The measure before the House at the moment is designed to establish what is known as the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory. This is done at the beginning of each Parliament. The Committee has quite large responsibilities and is different from some of the other committees that are formed within this House and the Senate, being a joint committee. I note that on this occasion the number of members from this House who will be on the Committee will be larger than previously. Really, that is the only major change contained in this measure.

The responsibilities of the Committee are quite wide. It has a responsibility for examining variations in the original plan of Canberra which are brought before the Committee from time to time. In this regard, decisions have to be made and reported to the Parliament. This is becoming a major issue on the Canberra scene because our forefathers did not anticipate that the' city of Canberra would grow to the size to which we now anticipate it will grow. Therefore, a problem exists in relation to area. It is quite obvious that, as the population and services of Canberra grow, the amount of land in the A.C.T. will not be sufficient to cater for all its needs. Therefore, one of 2 things must happen. Either more land must be acquired from New South Wales or there must be very close liaison between the responsible authorities and the Government of New South Wales and those responsible in the A.C.T. So the growth of this centre, if it spills out into New South Wales to any great extent - it is happening to some extent now - will be in conformity with the excellent plans which were laid down for this Territory.

Another very important responsibility of the Committee is to investigate various aspects of various industries in the Territory to see what the future holds. The previous Committee has been investigating the State and municipal costs and revenues within the Australian Capital Territory. This is a very important investigation because it will possibly be the base for future representation within the Australian Capital Territory. At the moment, as is well known, there is one honourable member in this House representing the Australian Capital Territory. There are no councils as there are in the States, apart from the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council, nor are there any State instrumentalities. So the position is that the Australian Capital Territory with a population of over 160,000 has one representative in government. As the Territory grows obviously that situation must change. This inquiry is very important for the future of the Territory. I think the Minister for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr Enderby) will agree with me that it is important that the inquiry proceed without any undue delay.

A lot of work will have to be done and a tremendous amount of evidence will have to be gathered. The formation of this Committee will give the people of the Australian Capital Territory an opportunity to present their views to an authority. This is important because, apart from the representative in this Parliament, it will be the only place where the public can come, where information can be gathered and presented in the form of a document and where progress can be made. In the investigation of costs and revenues it is important that we collect not only all the evidence available within the Australian Capital Territory but also relevant evidence from Australia and elsewhere to see what can be done to provide the best form of representation for the Australian Capital Territory in the future. I feel sure that the residents of the Australian Capital Territory are looking forward to the presentation of that document. I hope and trust that in the not distant future we will be able to resolve the problems associated with this area and come forward with a recommendation which will make it possible for the people of the Australian Capital Territory to have a greater say in what transpires in this Territory.

The Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory has a reputation for watching the interests of those concerned within the Territory. J hope it will continue to do that. I am sure that all the matters brought before it will be investigated very thoroughly and reported upon. I hope that situation will continue until such time as the other points I have raised in relation to greater representation come into effect. I am not in any way reflecting on the Minister. He knows that 1 am talking about a broader representation for the people in line with that existing in the States. The representation does not necessarily have to be the same by a long chalk as that operating in the States. It will be the responsibility of the Committee to look very thoroughly into all the aspects of the situation which exists now and to bring down a report that will, I hope, be acceptable to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

The Committee which is selected on this occasion, following acceptance of the motion by both Houses, will have a lot of work to do and a lot of investigations to make. In the past the Committee has had tremendous cooperation from the officers concerned, and I have no doubt that that will continue. It is most important to have officers of high calibre and integrity such as we have had in the past. A tremendous amount of documents which have to be analysed are presented to the Committee. The Committee must have adequate staff to do this. I have no doubt that the staff will be available again to the Committee because this one inquiry - I know that others will come forward - will mean a tremendous amount of work. I support the reformation of this Committee.

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