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Tuesday, 20 November 1973
Page: 3555


Mr ARMITAGE (Chifley) - The Australian Labor Government, under the leadership of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), has been responsible for a large number of new initiatives of reform such as the very great economic reforms introduced by this Government in the fight against inflation, in the areas of education and health, in the new area of foreign affairs, to the Constitution, and so I could go on. So much has been done in a period of 11 months that it makes one almost breathless. Certainly one of the most important initiatives has been that taken in the sphere of urban and regional development. For many years people have been looking askance throughout this country, particularly in the new areas of development, at the utter and complete lack of planning by State and local government authorities and particularly at the fact that increases in rate revenue have reached saturation point. It was obvious that something new had to be done. It was suggested by Sir Robert Menzies, of course, as late as 1950 but, as always, procrastination took place and it was another 23 years before anything was done. Today something is being done. I am very pleased to say that it is being done on the basis of need, because there are very great needs, particularly in the areas of great development. I represent one of those areas - the area running through Blacktown, in the State of New South Wales in the metropolitan area of Sydney, on through to Mount Druitt, St Marys and Kingswood. It is an area which has developed at a greater rate than has practically any other area in the whole of Australia, if not faster than the whole of Australia. It has more children living in it than certainly any other place in the whole of this country. It has great needs. It has needs for assistance to provide access roads, for transport to remove the chaos from the roads, for improvements in education and health facilities, for recreation centres and for child care centres. All these are very great and vast needs throughout the area. I mention child care centres. Sometimes we can learn something from other countries. Sometimes before we abuse the systems of other countries we should be able to accept the good that those countries do. I instance China. In China there are children's palaces to care for children after school hours, in other words, the latch key children, the children waiting till their parents come home. In Shanghai alone there are 1 1 children's palaces in all taking between 1,000 and 1,500 children a day and undertaking every possible type of activity - hobbies, sports, the arts, music and so on. This type of thing needs to be looked at in this country, just as we need to give far greater emphasis to child care centres for the children of those women who have to work, not because they want to work but simply because of economic circumstances.

I have to compliment the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) in particular on his initiative in the outer western suburbs of Sydney, because undoubtedly in his pilot project in the outer western suburbs of Sydney and the outer western suburbs of Melbourne he has one of the most forward looking propositions which has ever been initiated in the history of this country Arising out of the Budget there is an allocation of $5m for each of those areas, that is. Melbourne and Sydney. The Minister's proj ect is a pilot project. It is only the beginning to see how these things should be handled in future. Already, of course, we have received great assistance in the western suburbs of Sydney in the provision of health services in the last fortnight. Special medical health centres are to be built. Pediatric services are to be established, as are drug dependency and alcoholism services as" well as psychiatric services. These have been announced in the last fortnight. The Minister for Tourism and Recreation (Mr Stewart) has announced the provision of recreation centres, including the provision of recreation centres in schools for community use. This is the first time in the State that school facilities have been made available for community use. These things have already come about.

One of the important things for the future is what is to be done in the sphere of assistance for local government, and this comes into the pilot project announced by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development for the western suburbs of Sydney and the western suburbs of Melbourne. As I have said, there are very great needs in those areas for roads, child care facilities and recreation facilities for the children. It is an area of need because of a lack of foresight and lack of planning by previous Federal and State governments. But there is equally very great need for co-ordination of activities. I am sure that the Minister would agree that one of the greatest problems we have in all these fast developing areas is the complete lack of coordination between Federal authorities, State authorities, local government authorities and semi-governmental authorities. One finds it almost impossible to get them to work together - first of all to work out the needs of the area, then to work out the priorities and finally to work out how those priorities should be financed. This is one of the greatest needs of urban planning and urban development.

I am concerned particularly with the crisis in roads. Frankly, I am going to adopt a parish pump attitude on this issue of the road crisis in the Blacktown municipality. The results of a number of public surveys have been released recently. They indicate that the roads in that area are the worst in New South Wales. Anybody who goes into the area will appreciate that this has reached crisis point. The reason is that the developers have moved in - including the Housing Commission of

New South Wales and companies like Hookers - and have established massive estates. They make extraordinary profits and yet they do not plough back the finance to provide access roads into the area or to provide the necessary community facilities such as meeting halls, ovals and so on. The result is that they then turn to the Government - in this case the Australian Labor Government - to provide those facilities.

I emphasise for the benefit of the Minister for Urban and Regional Development the seriousness of what I can only call the crisis in roads that exists in that area. I sincerely hope that when the allocations are finally announced - they must be announced in the very near future - for the $5m allocated to the western suburbs of Sydney, special emphasis will be given to the roads system. It is vital. It is the major - issue - the major crisis - at the moment. It is the one that needs to be met first. I compliment the Minister on his initiative in undertaking this pilot scheme in the western suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne. I think this whole issue of reforms in urban and regional development is one of the most important that have been introduced,' certainly in this century. No other Federal government in the history of this Parliament has had the initiative or the courage to undertake this type of reform. I am very pleased to see it. I am very proud to be part of a Government which has initiated such important policies for the future development and future good living in our urban areas.







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