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Tuesday, 10 August 1926

The PRESIDENT - (Senator the Hon. J. Newlands) - I must ask the honorable gentleman not to discuss, in connexion with this bill, the migration proposals of the Government.

Senator ANDREW - The State Governments will be required to submit a roads programme extending over five years. I am wondering if it will be possible to set aside some portion of the money for the construction of roads to open up new settlements. Unfortunately, the' cost of construction is increasing from year to year. The first contract I made with gas companies for tar was on the basis of from 5d. to 6d. a gallon. To-day the price is about ls.- 2d. a gallon. It is impossible for the States, unaided, to carry out -a great- roads construction programme. The agreement provides that towns with a population exceeding 5,000 shall not participate in money allocated under the agreement. This will operate unfairly in the cases of a large number of municipalities which have main roads running through their territories. For example, the main roads from Melbourne to Echuca, and from Melbourne to Mildura, pass through a number of towns with a population exceeding 5,000, so the provision limiting any expenditure under this agreement to main roads outside the boundaries of such towns will penalize the municipalities mentioned.

Senator Grant - Why should not Melbourne also participate in the grant?

Senator ANDREW - I understand that municipalities in the metropolitan areas have made representations for an extra ?5,000,000 to meet their needs. No doubt that proposal will receive con sideration in due course. Exception has also been taken to the roads policy being administered by the Commonwealth Government. On this point I direct attention to the clause which states that the Ministers for Public Works in the various States, together with the Minister of State for the Commonwealth, shall . comprise a board which shall have the direction of policy. From what I know of State Ministers, I am satisfied that their presence on the board will materially influence its policy. It has also been objected that the allocation to some of the States will be less than the amount contributed by them under this scheme. Probably Victoria will suffer to the extent of ?1,000,000, but we should regard these proposals from a Federal stand-point. We should not forget that the Commonwealth has' contributed ?2,500,000 towards the cost of the river Murray . scheme, which will benefit primarily the States of New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia. Nor should we forget that in four year's the Commonwealth has assisted the iron and steel industry in New South Wales to the extent of ?667,331, and South Australia to the amount of ?245,000 in connexion with the wine bounty. We should discuss all proposals such as this in a purely Federal spirit. I agree with the principle of the bill. The method by which the money is to be raised will be dealt with in another measure. I support the bill because I believe it will play an important part in the development of Australia.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

In committee:

Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.


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