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Tuesday, 3 December 1974
Page: 3077

Senator CARRICK (New South Wales) - Under the Commonwealth Constitution there is no direct head of power to enable a Commonwealth government to have sovereignty or responsibility over urban and regional development. As a result a Commonwealth government in Australia cannot, under the Constitution, act unilaterally on policies relating to urban and regional development. This Bill, the Urban and Regional Development (Financial Assistance) Bill 1974, is drawn up in recognition of that fact. The Bill appreciates that if the Commonwealth Government is to evolve and implement policies of this nature it must do so under section 96 of the Constitution, and in doing so must arrive at individual agreements with the States.

The Bill before us really does 3 things. Firstly, it arranges that the Commonwealth Minister may, in consultation with State Ministers or a State Minister, approve programs of urban and regional development for a particular State or States. Secondly, it provides that the Commonwealth Government may agree with a State Government upon the financial assistance to be provided. Thirdly, it provides that all the agreements made with the States shall be tabled before this Parliament.

The Bill appears to be a simple matter but in fact very considerable complexities evolve from it. One of the really gratifying matters that have emerged in modern years is that all political parties, and indeed all sections of the community, have agreed on the need to upgrade urban life. The growth of affluence in the community has enabled the community to turn its mind and its finances towards urban improvement and towards improving the quality of life. All political parties have looked towards these goals and have sought methods of achieving these goals. They have looked towards the great cities and have devised policies to ease the pressure of growth on them- the building of corridors, the building of satellites and thebuilding of growth centres. They have looked towards the ageing inner hearts of the cities and have looked towards methods of urban renewal, towards methods of improving transport and towards communications generally. These things are common to all political parties.

In contemplating this Bill it is good to look at recent history. I remind the Senate that in September 1972 the Prime Minister of the then Liberal-Country Party Government made a statement foreshadowing the formation of the National Urban and Regional Development Authority. That Authority, the Prime Minister said, would be an interim body which would work out ways, in co-operation with the States, of achieving the goals of urban improvement, centralisation, regional development and growth centres. In October of that year the enabling Bill to set up what became known as NURD A- the National Urban and Regional Development Authority- was implemented. It was a first class step to appoint as the first Commissioner of NURDA the then Chairman of the National Capital Development Commission, a great Australian, Sir John Overall. The Government of the day instructed NURDA, as its first task, to plan a 5-year program in terms of the concept of urban improvement and of growth centres and to have it ready for presentation by June 1973. NURDA directed itself to that task. The incoming Government in 1973 formed a new department and NURDA emerged as the Cities Commission. The Cities Commission presented a 5-year program in June 1973.I ask for leave to continue my remarks.

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