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Thursday, 17 February 1977
Page: 185

Mr NEIL (St George) -Before dealing with a grievance that seriously affects the electorate of St George I must mention 2 matters. Firstly I refer to the disgraceful speech we have just heard from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Uren). He took a letter, which was written by the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development (Mr Newman) to State Premiers, as the basis of discussion for a new agreement, out of context and has attempted, for blatant political purposes connected with the Western Australian election, to totally misrepresent the Commonwealth Government's position. Editorials of last week in the Adelaide Advertiser and, in particular, in the Australian Financial Review -

Mr Baillieu - And in Western Australia.

Mr NEIL - And in Western Australia, have pointed out that the reaction of the State Premiers is, to say the least, too hasty and indeed dishonest, They fully realise that the letter written by the Minister was the basis of discussion for proposals to found a new agreement and in no way was representing the Federal Government's policy. They also ought to realise that the Government and the Opposition really have the same basic objective in determining a new housing agreement. A constructive approach ought to be adopted, not this political approach of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition who is seeking to make some capital before the next election. He has forgotten that under the former Labor Government much of the tremendous abuse that occurred in this field was allowed to develop through his Party's attitudes and the proliferation of the schemes which his Party failed to properly administer.

The second matter is this: I understand that last night on the 7 p.m. news on Canberra television a news reader named Ken Begg said that at the joint meeting yesterday of the Liberal and National Country Parties there was a barrage of foot stomping while matters relating to electoral redistribution were considered and that the state of party room emotions was such as to warrant the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and the Cabinet looking at the matter again. It is well known that other than the official briefing which is given after party meetings a member of the parties does not make comment on what was said in the party room. He neither confirms nor denies matter that may appear in the Press purporting to relate what was said in the party room. That is a proper rule. It allows full debate in the party room. When claims of these types of activities are made it is quite proper for a member to say that the conduct in the room in no way was anything other than calm, reasoned and sensible. There were no emotional overtones and matters were discussed in a sensible and proper fashion. The person who has given the so-called information to Mr Begg earns nothing more than my contempt. Labor Opposition members throughout last year sought to use statements in the Press about what Liberal or National Country Party members of the House were alleged to have said in party meetings to gain political capital in circumstances in which members could neither confirm nor deny the accuracy of the reports. Those Labor members then and now earn my utmost contempt.

The grievance I refer to is the problems of the Botany Bay port development as it affects truck transportation in the St George electorate. The St George area is a very historic area not only of Sydney but also of Australia. Regrettably it is one of the most environmentally devastated areas. The present State Labor Government has spent a year postponing a previous decision. With some minor variations and the removal at this stage of the coal loader proposal the Government intends going ahead with the development. There are insufficient roads to take the trucks that will add to the already heavy congestion. No proper plan has been provided by the State Government to deal with this problem. It has in fact scrapped the former State Liberal Government's first priority for a main road which might have alleviated the problem.

Let me mention the words of 3 State Labor members while they were campaigning in the last State election in New South Wales. The words are contained in an article in the St George and Sutherland Shire Leader which deals with statements made by the members in the House. Mr Crabtree, now a member of the State Labor Ministry, described the Government's Botany Bay project as monstrous. He said that the election would be decided not on the political colour of candidates but on pledges to protect the area. The member for Rockdale, Mr Bannon, said that residents of Rockdale municipality could look forward to non-stop bedlam 24 hours a day if planned development of the Bay goes ahead unchallenged. Mr Walker, the present AttorneyGeneral and a member of Cabinet in New South Wales, said that the Bay project would bring in its wake environmental degradation and human misery which could be validly paralleled with the senseless destruction of war. Alderman Ryan, the present State member for Hurstville, is reported to have stated at a public meeting in April 1976 that the Botany Bay proposals would have disastrous effects on St George residents.

The former State Liberal Government provided in its roads program for the first priority road in that State to be a road called the Kyeemagh to Chullora urban road, designed to take truck transportation away from the area. The Federal Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon) recently visited the area and saw the tremendous problems which occur when huge trucks are using small residential roads. It is at least as bad as the Balmain problem and probably worse. It constitutes a very serious environmental and safety hazard. The Minister gave an assurance that funds from the federal coffers would be provided for projects in the area. It is for the State Government to decide where to build roads. I am not saying that it ought necessarily to build the Kyeemagh to Chullora road. If it does not build that road with moneys that have already been provided, it ought to build some other road in the area to alleviate the problem. There is talk of what is called an industrial road. That road or some other road ought to be built if the Kyeemagh to Chullora road is not built.

There are 2 ways in which this can be done. The State Minister for Transport does not appear to be taking any action either way. There could be an application for an export road declaration. That application has not been made by the State Government. I am given to understand that the former Liberal Government did not make the application because it intended to provide fully from its own funds for that road. The New South Wales Government should make an application immediately to the Federal Minister for declaration of a road as an export road. That could be provided under the Act. After an application was made and approval given for the road to be constructed, it would still take considerable time for the road to be constructed. It would still take 6 months or more for all the various environmental investigations and approvals and for preliminary plans and engineering plans to be drawn up. The Agreement expires on 30 June this year, although funds are still available under this year's Agreement. I understand it is quite possible for the Labor Government to apply now for an export road declaration on the basis that it would be considered once the new legislation was brought in. The way things are going, the road will not be built by the time the port is operating. The residents are marching backwards in time as far as the environmental problem is concerned because, even with the best will in the world, the roads cannot be built before the port is open. At the very least, the State Government should make this application. My reading of the Act indicates that it ought to be successful.

The Federal Minister does not make the nomination. There must be an application, both on a fair reading of the Act and m accordance with practice. If the New South Wales Government does not intend to apply it must include this road or another road in its ordinary urban arterial roads program request for the year, which can be approved by the Federal Minister. In answer to the question in the House, the Federal Minister undertook to provide funds. If the State Government makes this road its first priority- it is the State Government's province to declare the priority- it would become the first priority once again. Either the Kyeemagh to Chullora road or another road is absolutely vital.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order!The honourable member's time has expired.

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