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Tuesday, 8 November 1977
Page: 3054

Mr CHAPMAN (Kingston) -Contrary to the remarks that we heard a few moments ago from the honourable member for Shortland (Mr

Morris), the Bill before the House- the Transport Planning and Research (Financial Assistance) Bill 1977- is a further clear demonstration of the Fraser Government's commitment to provide an effective transport system for the Australian people, and particularly of its commitment to overcome the problems of urban transport in developing outer suburbs such as are found in the southern half of the Kingston electorate. This commitment to solving urban transport problems has been evident in the last two Budgets presented by the Fraser Government. Funds provided for urban public transport in those two Budgets give the lie to claims by the Australian Labor Party for partisan political purposes in a pamphlet which it circulated recently in the southern areas of the Kingston electorate.

This Bill is a further demonstration of the Fraser Government's concern for urban transport. It continues and extends arrangements for section 96 grants to the States for land transport planning and research and provides $8m for the 1977-78 financial year for various projects undertaken by State governments. That funding is provided on a two for one basis, with $2 being provided by the Commonwealth for every $1 provided by the State government involved in such a project. The Bill broadens the scope of assistance to cover all forms of land transport and the relationship of land transport to other modes of transport. In accord with the Government's commitment to federalism, the legislation gives the States greater flexibility in implementing and managing their planning and research projects. The Commonwealth Government will approve and provide funds for a total State program rather than for each individual project. The States will have the power to allocate funds between the various individual projects. Hence power and responsibility are being handed back to the level of government closest to the people.

The Commonwealth Government will continue to provide co-ordination to ensure the elimination of duplication of research and will establish a forum for discussion and comparison of programs. A key role of the Commonwealth Government will be the dissemination of information obtained under the program through annual progress reports and final project reports and combination of this information with information also provided by its own authorities and information gained from related international research programs. Programs of transport planning and research have thus far been a successful co-operative effort between Commonwealth and State governments. Advantages have accrued to both sides which would not have been possible otherwise. I refer to several projects conducted in South Australia which indicate the benefits flowing to the community from this allocation of Federal Government funds. A project of major significance, which has been given number one priority by the South Australian Government in its applications for funds and which draws the major proportion of funds, has been the joint North-east Area Public Transport Review and the Modbury Corridor Technology Evaluation. A primary objective of this study, which began some 18 months ago, is to determine the public transport investment required to form part of the total transport system for the north eastern suburbs of Adelaide to fulfil their needs in the next decade, and also to provide a planning basis for the next 20 to 30 years.

According to the South Australian Department of Transport, when it launched this project in March 1976 it had no preconceived notions of the correct answer to public transport investment in the north-eastern suburbs of Adelaide. The State Government promised the highest level of public participation in the decision-making process ever attempted by planners in Australia. According to this proposal, planners have been seeking active involvement of the people for whom the planning has been undertaken. This is regarded as a revolutionary approach to transport planning. NEAPTR has involved a whole range of detailed research projects. These include population trends, movement patterns and land use. Public meetings have been held to obtain the views of the public with regard to their own needs, explain alternative proposals and to seek the views of the public on them. Considerable publicity in the media has been engendered throughout the development of this project.

Part of the function of the project in determining the best way of fulfilling the transport needs of the people of the north-eastern suburbs has been to assess and balance the disadvantages caused to one group of residents by the benefits given to another group- for example, the effect of the extra noise in suburbs Uke Walkerville and St Peters caused by the extra and faster traffic flow needed by residents of the outerlying suburbs of Tea Tree Gully or the conflict between residents confronted with a new bus route redirected down their street and residents in the next street who benefit from that new service. This study is supposed to have been based on the principle that much of the information which is relevant to any decision is not held by experts but by ordinary people in the community. It is local people who understand local problems, their own specific needs and how their own community works.

Notwithstanding these claims, significant criticism has been made of the NEAPTR project. The State Government owns much of the land along the possible high speed Modbury Corridor, providing a compelling financial reason for the final decision concerning transport for the area to favour that route. The critics believe that the public outcry which accompanied the original acquisition program for this corridor would be repeated if a different route is chosen. Hence NEAPTR has been condemned as a mere public relations operations, with the results of the inquiry a foregone conclusion and private consultants having been engaged to present the inquiry to the community. Apparently public meetings called by NEAPTR, supposedly to engender public discussion, have been poorly advertised and cancelled at short notice. Critics have condemned the State Government and NEAPTR as dishonest in their investigations and presentation of material.

Personally, I do not have sufficiently detailed knowledge of the project to adjudicate these criticisms. However, some of the conclusions of the study which have recently received publicity may give some substance to them. Certainly it appears that the Modbury Corridor will be used to establish an express busway or tramway. Also of concern is the proposal to reserve a traffic lane on the Main North-east Road for buses in peak hour traffic. Even the State Minister of Transport, Mr Virgo, admits that this may have a detrimental effect on the traffic flow of motor vehicles. Whatever initiatives occur in the expansion of public transport faculties, the motor car will remain the preferred means of transport for the great bulk of the community. A squeezeoutthemotorist campaign through withdrawing access to traffic lanes will only compound rather than solve our current transport problems.

In view of the fact that two-thirds of the funds for this project-that is, some $356,462 out of a total cost of $534,754- since its inception have been provided by the Commonwealth Government, I believe that the Commonwealth Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon) should investigate these criticisms to ensure that these significant sums of Commonwealth money are being spent wisely for the benefit of the community. Despite these criticisms, I believe that the information gleaned by the NEAPTR research is of great value in planning effectively for the transport needs of the north-eastern suburbs of Adelaide. This is particularly so with regard to the need for cross-suburban transport routes in Adelaide, an issue which I have raised previously in this House.

One criticism which I believe has some validity is that top priority in transport research should have been given to the southern areas within the Marion and Noarlunga council areas instead of to the north-eastern suburbs. No doubt the State Labor Government has ignored the transport needs of the people of these areas, and the residents of the Kingston electorate, for political purposes. Negligence of the southern areas by the State Government is confirmed by the fact that it is conducting this NEAPTR research project in preference to research into overcoming the transport problems of suburbs such as O'Halloran Hill, Morphett Vale, Reynella, Christies Beach and Port Noarlunga.

Mr Cadman - This is Mr Virgo?

Mr CHAPMAN - This is Mr Virgo again. As I said a moment ago, no doubt there are political motivations behind the decision to conduct research in the north-eastern suburbs rather than in the southern areas. Whilst the north-eastern residents will have the luxury of a full transport program established on the basis of detailed research, the residents of the south will be left lamenting with a few cosmetic changes which were hastily introduced before the last State election.

Mr Cadman - It is a shame.

Mr CHAPMAN - As the honourable member for Mitchell says, it is a shame. Two other projects in South Australia which have been funded under this Commonwealth legislation are research into the viability of an electrically powered vehicle and also a steam powered vehicle. In an era of declining energy resources, particularly declining liquid hydrocarbon fuels, these two projects are of great significance to our future transport requirements. The Commonwealth has provided $2 1 ,642 out of a total cost of $32,662 for the electric car project and $12,826 out of a total cost of $19,241 for the steam car project. One thing that concerns me is that further funds for these two projects have not been provided this year. The South Australian Government did not see fit to give them sufficiently high priority in its list of projects submitted to the Commonwealth Government for funding to obtain an allocation of funds for them. Of even greater concern is the attempt by the State Labor Government to blame the Commonwealth Government for the lack of continued funding for these projects. The plain fact is that the State Government placed these projects way down on its list of priorities so that even with the very generous funds provided by the Commonwealth Government they did not get a guernsey. By contrast, the NEAPTR project has been given number 1 priority in submissions and therefore funding has continued. These are three rejects of nearly one hundred conducted in South Australia with Commonwealth funds under the terms of the previous legislation.

The Bill now before the House will continue that program and that funding. The Commonwealth Government in this way is making a very significant contribution to fulfilling the transport needs of South Australians but the South Australian Labor Government and the Minister of Transport, Mr Virgo, stand condemned for one aspect of their use of these funds. Each of the projects which I have mentioned in some detail has received considerable media publicity in South Australia initiated by the State Government. NEAPTR in particular has been publicised in special lift-out features in several of Adelaide's newspapers, in particular the two major daily newspapers in that city, but the only mention of the Commonwealth Government has been the misrepresentation about the funding of the electric and steam cars and the criticism of the Commonwealth Government associated with that misrepresentation. I note that the Minister for Productivity (Mr Macphee) is nodding his head. Obviously he is aware of that misrepresentation.

In not one of the many statements on these projects which have been used in the great wad of newspaper articles, some of which I have here, has any mention been made of the Commonwealth Government and the fact that two-thirds of the money for these projects has been provided by the Commonwealth Government. Publicity has been used purely for the purpose of self- aggrandisement of the State Labor Government and the State Minister of Transport, Mr Virgo. Mr Virgo has been ever ready to misrepresent the Fraser Government. It is about time he gave some credit where it is due. As I mentioned, a moment ago, the plain fact is that the Commonwealth Government has provided $356,462 out of $534,754 spent on NEAPTR; $21,642 out of $32,662 spent on the electric car and $12,826 out of $19,241 spent on the steam car, as well as two-thirds of the cost of the many other projects, which, as I mentioned, number nearly one hundred.

It is the Commonwealth Government which has made these projects possible through its generous provision of funds, not the Dunstan Labor Government on its own, as it would attempt to have us believe through media publicity. The South Australian people should be aware of this in view of the barrage of misrepresentations that have been initiated by the Dunstan Government about the Commonwealth Government over the last two years. The transport planning and research program has provided a good example of CommonwealthState co-operation. Let that co-operation and the major Commonwealth involvement in it be acknowledged at the State level, as it is here. This Bill will enable that co-operation to continue and ensure the effective use of resources. It is about time that the State Government, and also the Labor Party in this place, recognised the contribution that is being made by the Fraser Government to public transport projects.

I mentioned at the beginning of my remarks that a leaflet had been distributed recently in the southern part of the Kingston electorate which misrepresented the situation in regard to Commonwealth funding for urban transport.

Mr Cadman - Not again.

Mr CHAPMAN - Yes. They do it all the time. This year urban public transport will benefit through the provision of $51m, as against $58m last year. The pamphlet was designed to convince the electors of Kingston that there had been a massive slashing of funds by the Commonwealth Government. The pamphlet listed as an achievement of the Fraser Liberal Government the fact that less money had been provided to the States for programs such as public transport programs. The funding which I mentioned a moment ago, $51m, is in fact a minor reduction of some 12 per cent in the 1977-78 Budget over the 1976-77 Budget, not the 21 per cent which was claimed in the heading on that pamphlet which was distributed.

Mr Cadman - It is a scandal.

Mr CHAPMAN -The way they misrepresent the Commonwealth Government's funding of projects in that State is a scandal. Given the need to restrain government spending, which has stemmed from the previous Labor Government's extravagance, this is a commendable effort. As I said, it shows that the Fraser Government still gives a high priority to urban public transport needs. The slight reduction m the Budget this year is in comparison with the Fraser Government's Budget of the year before. The inference in that pamphlet is that the Fraser Government has slashed spending on urban public transport in comparison with the previous

Labor Government. The heading of that pamphlet is therefore grossly misleading. Add.tionally, the assertion in the pamphlet that the Fraser Government is providing less money for urban public transport is a downright lie. The $5 8m provided in the 1976-77 Budget was nearly twice as much money for urban public transport as that provided in the last Labor Budget of the year before. Fortunately for all Australians that will be the last Budget the Labor Party has a chance to bring down in this place for many years to come.

As I have mentioned already, a further $51m has been provided for these transport projects in the current Budget. This includes $5m specifically committed as the Commonwealth Government's contribution to new projects in 1977-78. It should be noted that this is the first allocation of Commonwealth funds for new works under this scheme since 1974. It is also the only money allocated to new projects of any type over the whole range of government expenditure in the 1977-78 Budget. This initiation of new projects contrasts with the Labor Party's performance in government in 1975 and the misleading claims about which I have spoken. It shows that the Liberal-National Country Party Government cares about people who are dependent on public transport. Hence in two years in office the Liberal-National Country Party Government has provided $109m for urban public transport. This is 40 per cent more than the previous Labor Government provided in three years. This point should be emphasised. The $109m provided by the Fraser Government in two years is 40 per cent more than the Labor Government provided in three years. This shows how the Fraser Government has given a higher priority to this area than the previous Labor Government. During a period of necessary restraint on government spending and cutbacks in spending m many areas of spending the Government has increased funding in areas of real need such as urban public transport. It is providing much more money at a time of restraint than Labor saw fit to give in its era of free, easy and uncontrolled government spending which caused our economic problems. Whether one looks at the Bill now before the House or at the overall Budget allocation for urban public transport, one sees that the Government is definite in its commitments and has provided the funds for the States to get on with the job. Certainly this piece of legislation, the Transport Planning and Research (Financial Assistance) Bill, will continue that funding in a very special area and will continue the opportunity for the

States to conduct research on a two for one basis next year and on a 50/50 funding basis thereafter. I commend the Bill to the House and urge its speedy passage.

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