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Thursday, 27 November 1941

Senator ALLAN MacDONALD - It is definitely misleading. The reason why the Legislative Council objected to the measures referred to was to protect country municipalities and roads boards. Un like the eastern States, in Western Australia motor registration fees are levied by the various country authorities or municipalities, and are retained by them to defray the cost of the upkeep of interelectorate roads, which are used largely by metropolitan people and cross-country travellers. They also receive a proportion of the metropolitan area licence-fees collected by the State Police Department. If the State Government purloined al! of the State licence-fees, it would mean that the local governing authorities in the outlying country districts, including the mining areas, would not have sufficient local finance to enable them to keep country roads in proper repair. The Legislative Council of Western Australia prefers licence-fees to be left in the hands of the local authorities, instead of the whole of the money collected being paid into the State Treasury, with the result. I suggest, that the country districts would not see it again. The action of the Legislative Council has not had a detrimental effect on State budgets, because the State Treasurer would have to make some attempt to help to finance the local authorities in distant country centres, which are unable completely to- finance themselves.

I look forward to the time when Commonwealth grants to the claimant States will gradually disappear. Owing to the increased war-time production, I should say that the first State in which a grant will no longer need to be made will be South Australia. I take my hat off to the Government of that State for the commendable way in which it is pushing ahead with the erection of factories, and the establishment of new industries.

Senator Amour - That has been possible as the result of funds provided by the Commonwealth.

Senator ALLAN MacDONALD - But the Government of that State is to be congratulated upon its energy and capacity in seizing the opportunity to expand its secondary industries. Of the whole of the six States, South Australia has the fewest natural resources, and, therefore, is deserving of congratulation upon its increased production. I am rather envious of that State because Western Australia has not progressed nearly so rapidly. I am hoping that tha* position will be corrected, and one of the means of doing so would be to give every encouragement to the development of the natural resources of Western Australia, particularly the gold-mining industry. Owing to the fact that the State has few secondary industries, difficulty is experienced in absorbing the unemployed, but, as happened during the dark years of the depression, the unemployed were absorbed by a further expansion of goldmining. Nothing should be done to jeopardize the expansion of that industry which has done much for the State and will continue to be of valuable assistance to Australia, when accounts have to be faced during and at the termination of the war. That is one of the reasons why I took certain action in this chamber to-day. In considering future increases of taxes, the Commonwealth Government should have regard to the importance of thegold-mining industry to Western Australia. I repeat that I look forward to the time when it will be no longer necessary to provide these grants, owing to the increased prosperity of the three claimant States.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.

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