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Tuesday, 27 October 1964

Senator BENN (Queensland) .- I refer to Division No. 852 - Health Services, item 03, Abattoir services. Last year the appropriation was £40,705 and actual expenditure was £40,729. This year, (he proposed vote is £53,100, an increase of approximately £12,000. What are the abattoir services? What actual service is rendered to the people of the Australian Capital Territory. I assume that the abattoir was established by a statute and that certain provisions would apply to its operation. For instance, I imagine that all the cattle and and sheep consumed in the Australian Capital Territory necessarily would have to be slaughtered at the abattoir under the supervision of officers of the Department of Health. The Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) might inform me whether I am correct.

As the Commonwealth Government went to the expense of establishing the abattoir, I assume that there would be prohibitions in respect of beef and mutton entering the Territory. The Minister might inform me whether there are any wholesale butchers operating in the Territory and if so where they get their meat. I should like to know also what is done with the hides and the skins. Is there an industry at the abattoir? Is there a piggery where pigs are fed on the offal? As there is an expenditure of £50,000 involved, and this is not peanuts, perhaps the Minister would give me some information about it. I will not be upset if he cannot answer me tonight. I do not expect the Minister to have this information immediately at his disposal. It will do tomorrow or next week.

I turn now to Division No. 853 - Australian Capital Territory Services, sub-division 5, item 16, City Omnibus Service - Loss on operations, which has the notation " for payment to the credit of the Australian Capital Territory Transport Trust Account ". Last year the vote was £92,000 and the actual expenditure was £87,300. This year the proposed vote is £79,000. I should like some information on this item because it appears that the Department of the Interior anticipates a loss on the omnibus services in the city of Canberra and suburbs. It is proposed to cover this loss by an appropriation of £79,000. I come from a city where buses are operated by a city council and if the buses show a loss-

Senator Morris - As they do.

Senator BENN - As they do anywhere. I think you will find it difficult to name a city or town where the buses run by the local authority do not show a loss. But how is the loss recovered in those places? The taxpayers have to make good the loss. In this case the loss will be made up from the Treasury.

Senator Marriott - From the taxpayers.

Senator BENN - Yes, and from the Tasmanian taxpayers too, Senator Marriott. The honorable senator will be interested to know that the taxpayers of his State have to contribute to making good these losses, as I do. I will also have to pay my rates in Brisbane to make good the losses of the buses there. I am sure an argument will be produced in favour of the Government's making up the losses in Canberra but there will be many against it also. There is such a thing as an economic charge to be made for bus services. I do not know what the fares are in Canberra but they cannot be economic fares; otherwise the expenditure and the revenue would balance. It may be that, because the Goverment functions in Canberra partly as a local authority and partly as the Commonwealth Government, what is being done is the correct thing to do, but it does not appear to me to be the correct thing. It appears to me to be wrong. That is why I am asking the Minister whether he would be kind enough to enlighten me upon the matter.

I wish to refer now to Lake Burley Griffin. An appropriation is sought for operation and maintenance. I do not object to Lake Burley Griffin. I think that the National Capital should be beautified as much as possible, and my honest opinion is that the lake has beautified it considerably. Last year the proposed vote was £30,000, of which £9,000 was spent. This year the Government is asking for £54,000. Surely the Minister must expect that somebody will ask a question about this £54,000. What I should like to know is how a lake is operated. The item is for operation and maintenance. I can understand that maintenance work would be required around the banks or borders of the lake. I would expect that during the first year or two there would be a settling down period. It would take some time for the ground or the walls in certain places to become accustomed to the beat of the waves. Finally, perhaps, maintenance will terminate altogether but for the time being it will be necessary to provide money for the maintenance of the lake. I do not know just what is involved in operating a lake, but it seems that £1,000 a week approximately is to be spent on operating and maintaining Lake Burley Griffin.

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