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Wednesday, 13 November 1974
Page: 2347


Senator McLAREN (South Australia) - I rise to say a few words in connection with the appropriation of money for the growth centre of Monarto in South Australia. I am pleased that the present Labor Government is assisting with finance for the development of this growth centre. I shall read from the Budget document headed 'Urban and Regional Development 1974-75'. It states:

The Australian Government has agreed to assist the initiatives of the South Australian Government in the development of the Monarto growth centre which is located near the town of Murray Bridge, 80 kilometres east of Adelaide.

Some time ago the South Australian Government enacted legislation for the establishment of the Monarto Development Commission and for the acquisition of 15,400 hectares of land within the designated site of the growth centre.

The Australian Government gave a commitment of financial assistance to the South Australian Government for land in the growth centre amounting to $8.5m. Part of this assistance was made available in 1973-74 together with funds for planning studies, tree planting and the establishment of the Development Commission.

In 1974-75 the Australian Government will provide financial assistance for the growth centre, for the balance of the land acquisition program, the first stage of the design program, and other works.

I express my concern at public statements which are being made by honourable senators opposite in connection with the development of the growth centre. I am particularly disturbed at a statement made in Adelaide last week by the present Leader of the Opposition, Mr Snedden. I shall not read all of it. Mr Snedden is reported in the Adelaide 'Advertiser' of Tuesday, 5 November, as saying:

The land already purchased for Monarto would not obligate a Liberal government to go ahead with the project at the present rate.

This is very disturbing not only to myself as a person who has lived in the area for nearly 25 years but also to many people who have been looking for a growth centre in Adelaide to take off some of its population so that it can remain the beautiful garden city with plenty of open spaces and parks which it is at the present time. Many people not only in Adelaide but also in the Murray Valley area were disturbed that Mr Snedden saw fit to make a statement such as that. But, further than that, there seems to be a concerted campaign by people in opposition to this growth centre of Monarto. I saw fit to raise this matter in the Senate during the adjournment debate one night recently because of a statement made by the shadow Minister for Housing, Mr McLeay. My remarks that night drew forth support for Mr McLeay from 3 Liberal Party senators. So it seems as though the Liberal Party is very much opposed to the establishment of the growth centre at Monarto.

But further to that we find that the chairman of the Mobilong District Council, Mr Green, has been floating rumours around the area. I think he is also State president of the Dairymen's Association. He has said that either the State Labor Government or the Monarto Development Commission will acquire some of the rich dairy flats in the Murray Bridge area for, as he described it, a playground or a recreation area for the people of Monarto. Of course this has had a very upsetting effect on people who earn their living from dairying on those rich river flats. Many of them have come to me expressing concern that the Government may acquire their means of livelihood. This has all been brought about by those statements made by Mr Green. I have spoken to Mr Green. He told me that the statement was made by a public servant at a meeting at which he, Mr Green, was not present. He got the information second hand. But he saw fit to make these public statements and caused this very great concern among the people who live there and who are making a living there. But not only is there concern for that reason. People are concerned also that if they want to dispose of their dairy farms a potential buyer will refrain from buying now because of the fear that these flats might be acquired for recreation purposes. I want to acquaint the Senate with a telex message which I received yesterday from the Minister in charge of this project in South Australia, the Minister of Development and Mines, Mr Hopgood. the Telex states:

The Monarto Development Commission has absolutely no interest in acquiring dairy farms north of Murray Bridge. This unequivocal statement was made today by the Minister of Development and Mines (Don Hopgood) -

He is also the Minister for Conservation in the South Australian Parliament-

Mr Hopgoodis also the Minister responsible for the Monarto Development Commission. He was replying to persistent rumours that the Monarto Development Commission would acquire the land for eventual development for recreational purposes.

As far as the Monarto Development Commission is concerned it is only a rumour. The Monarto Development Commission has no interest in the land nor has it initiated any inquiry for use of the land for recreational purposes. I don't know how a satisfactory reply can be made to a rumour other than to categorically deny it. People have been told clearly the Monarto Development Commission has no interest whatsoever in the land, yet they persist in peddling the story and demanding a satisfactory reply. The only area of land in which the Monarto Development Commission might be interested is the Sturt Reserve, south of Murray Bridge -

At present that is controlled by the Murray Bridge Corporation-

The Government was asked about 3 years ago to acquire this area of land but it would be a costly undertaking. The Monarto Development Commission is investigating the possibility of purchasing a small part of this for recreation purposes, ' Mr Hopgood said.

That is the text of the message which I received yesterday from Mr Hopgood. The reason I rose here tonight was to express my concern that members of the Opposition, both State and Federal, have by their actions made it obvious to everybody that they are opposed to this growth centre. This Government has seen fit to appropriate moneys for the development of this area. I hope that members of the Opposition in their wisdom and with some hindsight and second thoughts will take a different attitude to the development of Monarto. Perhaps Mr Snedden thought, when he made that statement, that by some mischance he would become the new Prime Minister of Australia at very short notice. But I think his chances of that are receding fast into the background.

I assure people who are interested in the development of Monarto that while this Government remains in office Monarto will go ahead apace. In years to come people will look back at this project with pride as they have looked back at the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme. We recall that in the initial stages of the development of the hydro-electric scheme the Liberal Party was also opposed to it. As I have said in this Parliament on many occasions, that scheme is now looked upon as the eighth wonder of the world. At the opening of the scheme the Liberal Party Opposition at the time was so opposed to it that they boycotted it. But they have not gone so far as to boycott the foundation ceremony in relation to Monarto which took place last year. As I have said, I hope that members of the Liberal Party in Opposition will come out and say publicly that they are right behind this scheme. I am afraid that if they do not do so they will live to rue the day. They will regret the opposition which they are launching at this very fine project in South Australia.







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