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Thursday, 1 July 1937

Senator LECKIE (Victoria) . - I shall not oppose the bill, but I point out that one phase of the Federal Aid Roads Agreement appears to have been lost sight of. For many years senators from Western Australia have complained of the ill effects of federation on that State, and have contended that nearly all the benefits of federation have been enjoyed by the manufacturing States in the eastern portion of the continent. This agreement, however, proves the converse because, since the distribution of the money is to be made on the basis of three-fifths population and two-fifths area, Victoria will contribute about £500,000 a year towards the construc tion and maintenance of roads in the other States.

Senator ALLAN MACDONALD (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - Does the honorable senator begrudge that contribution ?

Senator LECKIE - No; but I am amazed that there has been no expression of gratitude on the part of the recipients. I do not know how long Victoria can continue to act so generously towards the other States. Only because the people of Victoria have an all-Australian outlook are they reconciled to this agreement, which requires their small State to assist the poorer and larger States to provide good roads. I am not convinced that the distribution is equitable. It is a moot question whether Victorian motorists and other users of petrol should contribute money for expenditure on roads, in distant parts of the Commonwealth. One would at least expect the people of those other States to be grateful to Victoria. I imagine that New South Wales, because of its large area and big population, will break about even; but Victoria certainly will pay away more than it receives. In proportion to its size, Victoria has not so many bad roads as have some of the other States, but that is not to say that there are no bad roads in Victoria. Its better roads generally are due to thar State having made an earlier start with a policy of road improvement. We hear much of the industrial States living on the primary producing States, almost as though the former were parasites ; but wo hear little of contributions by the industrial States to the others. I bring this e matter forward so that the public may know that Victoria is willing to follow an all-Australian policy even at some cost to itself.

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