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Tuesday, 15 May 1973
Page: 2082

Mr ANTHONY (Richmond) (Leader of the Australian Country Party) - I move:

Omit sub-clause (1), substitute the following subclause:

(1)   This Act may be cited as the Cities and Regional Development Commission Act 1973.'.

In the circulated list of amendments in the name of the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt) there follow a number of consequential amendments which will be moved if the first amendment is agreed to. The honourable member for Gwydir outlined in his speech on the motion for the second reading of this Bill his reasons for his intention to move this amendment. I fully support what he said. It should be a matter of Government policy actively to initiate and support measures which would promote a more balanced distribution of Australian population and industry. I am concerned that the change of name which the Bill proposes for the National Urban and Regional Development Authority might mean a change of direction and a change of emphasis in our approach to population problems. I am concerned that a Cities Commission might confine its interest, as its name clearly suggests, to the cities. I know that the Minister for Urban and

Regional Development (Mr Uren) has spoken of cities both old and new in this context. I am not suggesting that the Cities Commission would confine its interest entirely to our established cities and their problems, although, of course, there is plenty of room for something to be done in that area. But even if it operates in the area of both old and new cities, that is not good enough.

The problem of population imbalance cannot be solved through dealing with cities alone - by fixing up the old ones and building new ones. These things have to be done and new cities will probably be the most important ingredient in the recipe. But that is not enough in itself. The concept on which the previous Government based its approach was that of urban and regional development. We did not see the building of new cities as the only approach to regional development or decentralisation. We saw - and my Party still sees - regional development and decentralisation as a process involving a wide range of measures designed to foster the development of industry and hence the growth of population in many regional areas, not just at those points where new cities are to be established. We see the concept of true regional development as being based on all the resources of a region, both material and human. We believe that all Australians are entitled to the advantages which our growing national prosperity can provide and that these advantages must be available to the greatest possible extent, not just to the people of the cities old or new but to those who live and work throughout the nation.

To a large extent the advantages which regional growth centres and new cities will bring will flow to people living in the surrounding regions. But unless there are conscious and deliberate efforts to make this happen, it would not happen to a sufficient extent. That is why I am worried about the Minister's motive in changing the name of this authority to the Cities Commission. I am worried that the authority might be simply what its name suggests, and that it will not take the broader view of regional development, the kind of view which I believe should be taken. I am worried that the Government, in taking this action, may be giving us a further indication of its lack of interest in the welfare of people who live outside the cities. No one has the slightest illusions about the

Government's feelings in this direction. Statements by Ministers indicate that they are falling over each other in order to make plain their disregard for the welfare of country people and their anxiety to put country people in their places and do great things for all the Labor voters in the cities. So, in an attempt to give this authority a name which properly reflects and describes its functions, or the functions which we believe it should have, I have moved an amendment which provides that the name of the authority should be the Cities and Regional Development Commission.

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