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Tuesday, 10 August 1926

The CHAIRMAN (Senator Plain (VICTORIA) -I ask the honorable senator to confine his remarks to the schedule.

Senator FINDLEY - I intend to do so. Moreover, the bill does not meet with the approval of 'some of the principal municipalities in Victoria. At a very important conference of metropolitan municipalities held in Melbourne, the delegates pointed out how unfair is the proposal to exclude cities with a population of over 5,000 inhabitants. A circular which I have received from the Town Clerk of Collingwood says -

By direction of the chairman (Councillor A. J. Dunkin, Collingwood Council) of the conference of metropolitan municipalities .on main arterial road construction, I am desired to draw the attention of all Federal members of both Houses, representing towns and cities with populations exceeding 5,000,- to. the facts that under the terms of the Federal Government's scheme for main road construction all towns and cities with populations exceeding 5,000 have been excluded from the provisions and benefits of the £20,000,000 Federal grant for main roads.

This will doubtless appeal to such members as being a most inequitable arrangement, particularly in view of the fact that the bulk of the revenue to he devoted to the construction of country main roads is to be derived through additional duties on petrol tires and chassis from the motorists of whom 70 per cent, operate constantly on metropolitan roads. As taxation implies service, it will be readily admitted that it would be sound in principle to give such service in the shape of good roads to those motorists who supply the revenue for roads. Yet the claims of the 70 per cent, mentioned have been entirely ignored.

What answer can the Minister give? According to this circular, a deputation waited on the Prime Minister to ask for a grant of £5.000,000, but it was given no definite reply other than that its representations would receive consideration. This clause does not apply to the metropolitan district of Melbourne only, but to all cities with a population of over 5,000 persons. We must remember that motorists from all parts of the country visit the cities, and if damage is done to roads by motor traffic, these people from the country contribute to that damage. Yet, the bulk of the money, under these proposals, will he collected from the users of motor cars in the big cities of . the Commonwealth. The principle underlying these proposals is wrong. No one section of the community should be singled out to provide revenue for the making of roads and, at the same time, be precluded from participating in the grants that are made. No one would oppose a sound proposal for the construction of good roads. When the Government's roads policy was announced it was not understood that only a Bection of the road users would be taxed. . The Labour party believes in good roads; but it also believes that all the users of those roads . should . contribute towards their cost.

Senator Pearce - Is there anything in the schedule about money?

Senator FINDLEY - Good roads cannot be constructed without money. I am anxious to see good roads throughout Australia, but I submit that if the cost of such undertakings is to be borne by road users they should be paid for by all the persons who use them, and not by only a section of them. I do not think that those States to which . this scheme is unacceptable should be called upon to provide money for the construction of roads in other States. I know that the Government supporters are pledged to support, the measures introduced by the Government

Senator Pearce - On a point of order. I submit that the honorable senator is not dealing with the schedule, but is discussing the attitude adopted by honorable senators who support the Government. Are we to have a general discussion on the policy of the Government?

The CHAIRMAN (Senator Plain).I have allowed the honorable senator considerable latitude. I ask him now to confine his remarks to the clause before the committee.

Senator FINDLEY - I appreciate the latitude that you have given me.

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