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Speech to open the inaugural meeting of the Northern Development Council, Canberra



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SPEECH BY THE PRIME MINISTER

NR. E, G, WHITLAFO.C. M.r. f t /

TO OPEN THE INAUGURAL MEETING OF

THE NORTHERN DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL/

CANBERRA, MONDAY 26 NOVEMBER 1973

T h i s m e e t in g h a s a s s e m b l e d t o g i v e p r a c t i c a l

EXPRESSION TO OUR HOPES - WHATEVER GOVERNMENT WE REPRESENT,

WHATEVER PARTY WE REPRESENT - THAT THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE

NORTHERN REGIONS OF AU STR ALIA W IL L GO FORWARD WITH SPEED,

WITH C E R TA IN TY , AND WITH GREAT B E N E FITS FOR THE PEOPLE

BETWEEN THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT'AND CERTAIN STATE

Go v e r n m e n t s t o e x a m in e is s u e s o f g r e a t im p o r t a n c e t o

PARTICULAR REGIONS. THERE HAVE BEEN TALKS BETWEEN THE

A u s t r a l i a n Go v e r n m e n t a n d t h e V i c t o r i a n a n d New So u t h

Wa l e s Go v e r n m e n t s c o n c e r n in g A l b u r y -Wo d o n g a , a n d w it h

t h e V i c t o r i a n , New So u t h Wa l e s a n d So u t h A u s t r a l i a n

Go v e r n m e n t s c o n c e r n in g t h e Mu r r a y Wa t e r s A g r e e m e n t .

T h o s e m e e t in g s r e a c h e d h i g h l y s a t i s f a c t o r y c o n c l u s i o n s .

I HAVE HIGH HOPES THAT; T H IS MEETING W IL L DO L IK E W IS E .

OF THE NORTH AND A L L A U STR ALIAN S.

| .

T h i s i s b y n o x m e a n s t h e f i r s t m e e t in g t h i s y e a r

n

1

I t m a y b e t h a t s m a l l e r c o n f e r e n c e s s u c h a s t h i s -

MORE IN T IM A T E , MORE MANAGEABLE, MORE PURPOSEFUL

PERHAPS - CAN PRODUCE QUICKER AND MORE SATISFACTORY

RESULTS THAN FU LL-SC A LE PREM IERS' CONFERENCES. I n

ANY CASE, I WELCOME M r. B jE LK E -pE T E R S E N AND

M r. B ic k e r t o n . I a m g r a t e f u l f o r t h e i r a t t e n d a n c e

AT T H IS INAUGURAL MEETING. I VENTURE TO SUGGEST THAT

THEY MAY DERIVE SOME REASSURANCE FROM THE FACT T H A I__ -, «. - W L . I - ^ f*·

AT ANY MEETING HELD HERE, IN T H IS SENATE ChA M B E R -O F ^

THe FcDERAL^'PARbjA gIF N T 7 THE RIGHTS AND INTERESTS OF

t h e St a t e s w i l l b e a m p l y p r o t e c t e d . ·

For A u s t r a l i a n n a t i o n a l Go v e r n m e n t s i n t h e p a s t ,

NORTHERN DEVELOPMENT HAS ALWAYS BEEN A SOMEWHAT REMOTE

AND PERIPHERAL CONCERN. FOR A GOVERNMENT IN CANBERRA, i

y .

" t h e No r t h " m e a n t o n l y a f r a c t io n o f t h e a r e a o v e r

w h ic h i t s r e s p o n s i b i l i t y r a n ; f o r a Go v e r n m e n t i n /

Pe r t h i t m e a n t p e r h a p s h a l f i t s a r e a o f r e s p o n s i b i l i t y ;

f o r a Go v e r n m e n t i n B r is b a n e or a n a d m i n i s t r a t i o n i n

• . ■ A? m

Da r w i n , i t m e a n t n e a r l y a l l o f i t . So I a m c o n s c io u s ·;·

o f t h e f a c t t h a t t h e Go v e r n m e n t s o f Qu e e n s l a n d a n d

We s t e r n A u s t r a l i a , a s w e l l a s h a v in g a g r e a t e r n a t u r a l

in t e r e s t i n t h e s e r e g io n s , h a v e a n a d v a n t a g e o v e r u s i n

Ca n b e r r a b y v i r t u e o f t h e i r k n o w l e d g e o f l o c a l c o n d i t i o n s

AND TH EIR LONGER EXPERIENCE IN A D M IN IS T E R IN G THE REMOTE /

AREAS OR T H E IR STATES.

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• No t h in g I s a y t o d a y , a n d n o t h in g we e n v is a g e

t h i s new Co u n c i l d o i n g , s h o u l d b e t a k e n a s a c r i t i c i s m

OF THE EFFORTS OF THE STATE GOVERNMENTS AND NORTHERN

T e r r it o r y a d m i n i s t r a t i o n s i n d e v e l o p in g t h e n o r t h .

T h e y h a v e d o n e a g r e a t d e a l . I t i s m y i n t e n t i o n , ,

HOWEVER, TO SEE THAT THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT, IN ^

CO-OPERATION W ITH THE S T ATE S, PLAYS IT S FULL PART '

IN THESE ENDEAVOURS, AND THAT THE PEOPLE OF THE '

NORTH HAVE THE SAME OPPO RTUNITIES FOR A FULL AND .

PROSPEROUS L IF E AS A L L OTHER AU STR ALIAN S. THERE

• W IL L BE NO MORE SECOND-CLASS C IT IZ E N S ; THERE W IL L

BE NO MORE SECOND-CLASS REGIONS.

Θ " "

I T H IN K I CAN C LA IM THAT MY GOVERNMENT, MORE · ’ . '

THAN ANY OtIhER IN THE HISTORY OF FEDERAL P O L IT IC S ,

IS COMMITTED TO THE TASK AND THE CHALLENGE OF ’

C U V lc )-v ~ . NORTHERN DEVELOPMENT. THAT COMMITMENT WAS EXPRESSED V- ·' Y .

C b IN MY PO LICY SPEECH A YEAR AGO. I t WAS REFLECTED IN

THE D E C IS IO N - ONE OF THE F IR S T A D M IN IS T R A T IV E ACTS ■ : .

. . . ' · ■ . · . · Ύ Ύ v · :γ·

«· ’ z * r » '. '• V i · *· ·-:· . ?

: . o f t h e new Go v e r n m e n t - t o e s t a b l i s h t h e De p a r t m e n t ; ■

. . o f No r t h e r n De v e l o p m e n t , w h ic h i s r e s p o n s ib l e f o r . ν ' ■ ■ ■

: c o - o r d i n a t i n g d e v e l o p m e n t i n t h e a r e a o f A u s t r a l i a

NORTH OF THE 26TH PAR ALLEL. We B E LIE V E THAT T H IS ·.: < :

REGION “ RICH AS IT IS IN NATURAL RESOURCES AND ’ 'C

- · .· ■ ' ΐ

PASTORAL AND AGRICULTURAL PO TENTIAL - SHOULD RECEIVE *■

. , A RECOGNITION FROM THE NATIO N AL GOVERNMENT COMMENSURATE

WITH ITS CONTRIBUTION TO THE NATIONAL'ECONOMY. I n ANY ' ;

A N A L Y S IS , THE NORTH CONTRIBUTES AS MUCH AS ANY OTHER .. Y f

s e c t o r o f A u s t r a l i a t o o u r e a r n in g s a n d o u r s t a n d a r d V . ;

: ■ ' , ·, '· ■ .

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T h e Au s t r a l i a n Go v e r n m e n t h a s a l w a y s r e c o g n is e d

THE PROBLEMS AND D IF F IC U L T IE S OF DEVELOPING THE NORTH -

THE HIGHER COSTS OF PROJECTS IN REMOTE AND D IF F IC U L T

ENVIRONMENTS, THE NEED FOR S P E C IA L WAGE AND OTHER* INCENTIVES TO ATTRACT WORKERS, THE HIGHER COST OF

HOUSING AND TRANSPORT, C A P IT A L EQUIPMENT, B U IL D IN G S ,

POWER, AND F E R T IL IS E R S . THESE FACTORS, AND OUR

H IS T O R IC A L PATTERN OF DEVELOPMENT, HAVE PUT SOUTHERN

Au s t r a l i a i n a p o s i t i o n o f g r e a t c o m p e t i t i v e a d v a n t a g e

OVER THE NORTH. ΪΗ Ε ACHIEVEMENTS OF THE PAST DECADE

ALONE, HOWEVER, HAVE CLEARLY SHOWN US THE REAL P O S S IB IL IT IE S

OF NORTHERN A U S T R A LIA . ΪΗ Ε MORE WE TAKE HOLD OF THESE

OPPORTUNITIES AND ENLARGE THE RANGE OF L IF E STYLES

OPEN TO A L L AU STR A LIA N S , THE MORE WE ENRICH OUR NATIONAL

c u l t u r e . A u s t r a l i a ' s s e n s e o f n a t io n h o o d w i l l n e v e r b e ,

FULLY R E A LIS E ^ WHILE OUR P O L IC IE S AND PRE-OCCUPATIONS

REMAIN LARGELY CONFINED TO A TRIANG LE IN THE SOUTH-EAST

OF THE CONTINENT FROM BRISBANE ΤΟ,-Ad E LA ID E AND ANOTHER :

IN THE SOUTH-WEST FROM PERTH TO ALBANY,

X /

Γ

I n my p o l i c y s p e e c h a y e a r a g o I s a i d t h i s - '

" L a b o r ' s o b j e c t i v e i s t o d e v e l o p t h e v a s t a n d v a l u a b l e ·

r e s o u r c e s o f No r t h e r n A u s t r a l i a f o r t h e b e n e f i t o f t h e . .

A u s t r a l i a n n a t io n a n d f u t u r e A u s t r a l i a n s . . . I t i s i n -

THE NORTH THAT THE GREAT SUGAR AND CATTLE INDUSTRIES HAVE

BEEN ESTABLISHED AND IT IS IN THE NORTH THAT AUSTRALIANS

*'■ '*. .· .

* j · *

FACE THE GREATEST CHALLENGE TO RETAIN THE OWNERSHIP OF . : . 1 ,

THE NATION S RESOURCES AND TO BASE· NEW INDU STR IES ON

THOSE RESOURCES.'

; . f".

L..V , _AJ . i i t , ^ ? , r r & . *

The purpose of t h is Co u n c il is to develop measures

DESIGNED TO PROMOTE THE DEVELOPMENT OF NORTHERN AU STR ALIA

AND THE WELFARE OF IT S PEOPLE. I t W IL L IN IT IA T E WHATEVER

STUDIES AND IN V E S TIG A TIO N S IT CONSIDERS NECESSARY TO

ACHIEVE THESE O BJE C TIV E S . T H IS IS A COMPREHENSIVE MANDATE.

I G IVE AN ASSURANCE THAT IF THE P O L IC IE S YOU AGREE UPON

REQUIRE SP E C IA L F IN A N C IA L AS SISTA N C E, THE AUSTRALIAN

Government w il l s y m p a th e tic a lly examine such proposals

IN CO-OPERATION WITH THE STATES.

Hy Government' s broad n a tio n a l o b je c t iv e s are now

GENERALLY WELL KNOWN. THEY APPLY EQUALLY TO THE NORTH.

v/e WANT STRONG AND CONTINUING ECONOMIC GROWTH - IN THE

NORTH AS WELL AS THE SOUTH. OUR ECONOMIC PLANNING IS

DESIGNED TO ACHIEVE GREATER AUSTRALIAN OWNERSHIP AND

P A R T IC IP A T IO N /IN INDUSTRY, MAXIMUM PROCESSING OF OUR

RESOURCES AND F A IR EXPORT P R IC E S . At A LL TIM ES DUE

ACCOUNT W IL L BE TAKEN OF THE NEEDS OF CONSERVATION,

ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS AND A B O R IG IN A L RIG H TS. I B E LIE V E

THAT THESE O BJEC TIVES REFLECT THE FEELINGS AND A S PIR A TIO N S

of most Au s t r a l ia n s . I do not b e l ie v e that the p u r s u it of

THESE O BJECTIVES W IL L CREATE UNDUE D IF F IC U L T IE S FOR OUR

IN D U S T R IE S , INCLUDING THE M IN IN G INDUSTRY. I t W IL L , .

HOWEVER, REQUIRE CO-OPERATION BETWEEN GOVERNMENT AND

INDUSTRY IN THE PLANNING AND EXECUTION OF, MAJOR / .

' ' . ' ' . j ' · -

DEVELOPMENTAL PROJECTS. . ' ' i : y . · ' ' .

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T h e r e i s a n u r g e n t n e e d f o r s u c h c o - o p e r a t io n a n d

PLANNING. DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS IN THE PAST - NEW TOWNSHIPS,

RAILWAYS AND PORTS, PARTICULARLY IN THE NORTH - FREQUENTLY

WENT AHEAD WITHOUT REGARD FOR OVERALL NATIONAL PO LICY OR NEEDS.

WE MUST ENSURE THAT FUTURE DEVELOPMENT IS GUIDED BY NATIO NAL

AS WELL AS LOCAL CONSIDERATIONS. SUCH NATIONAL CONSIDERATIONS

ARE BEHIND THE IM A G IN A T IV E P lLB A R A DEVELOPMENT CONCEPT

WHICH IS NOW THE SUBJECT OF JO IN T DISCUSSIONS BETWEEN

t h e A u s t r a l i a n a n d We s t e r n A u s t r a l i a n Go v e r n m e n t s . We

WANT THE DEVELOPMENT OF A NEW REGIONAL CENTRE, WITH CHEAP .

POWER, CO-ORDINATED TRANSPORT AND PORT F A C IL IT IE S , TO BE

PLANNED IN A WAY THAT W IL L PERMIT THE BALANCED DEVELOPMENT

OF THE RESOURCES IN THE REGION TO THE MUTUAL ADVANTAGE OF _

We s t e r n A u s t r a l i a , t h e n a t io n a n d t h e p a r t i c i p a t i n g .

COMMERICAL INTERESTS. MUCH THE SAME T H IN K IN G L IE S BEHIND ,

my Go v e r n m e n t s i n i t i a t i v e i n p r o v i d i n g f u n d s fo r a

COMPREHENSIVE EVALUATION OF THE RESOURCES OF THE . ;

B u r d e k in a n d Bow en Ba s i n s i n Qu e e n s l a n d . ' .

I EMPHASISE THAT THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT IS NOT . ;;

PREPARED TO ALLOW THE TEMPO AND D E T A IL OF NORTHERN ■ '

. . .

DEVELOPMENT TO BE DETERMINED BY MARKET FORCES ALONE. ;

IF WE WERE TO DO SO, WE WOULD PERPETUATE THE CO ND ITIO NS. .

WHICH HAVE CHARACTERISED OUR NATIO N AL DEVELOPMENT OVER ' ;

THE PAST GENERATION. I l l STORY MAY WELL JUDGE OUR GENERATION

HARSHLY WHEN IT IS RECALLED THAT 83% OF OUR TOTAL ;

POPULATION INCREASE OF NEARLY 5 M IL L IO N PEOPLE SINCE 1 9 4 9 ,

HAS OCCURRED IN THE C A P IT A L C IT IE S , AND OVER 50% HAVE ,

SETTLED IN SYDNEY AND MELBOURNE ALONE. . ' : " ' Λ..:,

I AM NOT CONCERNED TODAY TO DISCUSS THE GROWING PROBLEMS

OF OUR C IT IE S . ΪΗ Ε GOVERNMENT HAS ALREADY TAKEN CERTAIN

STEPS TO A L LE V IA T E THE MORE PRESSING OF THESE PROBLEMS.

I t w o u l d , h o w e v e r , b e w h o l l y c o n s is t e n t w it h our

P O L IC IE S OF URBAN RENEWAL AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF NEW

GROWTH CENTRES IF THE TEMPO OF NORTHERN DEVELOPMENT

WERE INCREASED, AND GREATER IN C EN TIVES WERE PROVIDED

FOR MORE AND MORE PEOPLE TO MOVE TO THE SPARSELY

POPULATED NORTHERN REGIONS OF A U S TR A LIA .

T h e p u r p o s e o f t h i s in a u g u r a l m e e t in g i s t o c o n s id e r

THE PROCEDURES AND ARRANGEMENTS TO BE FOLLOWED BY THE

Co u n c i l i n f u t u r e . I h o p e t h e Co u n c i l w i l l m e e t

REGULARLY - AT LEAST TWICE A YEAR - IN ORDER TO AVOID

THE AD HOC APPROACH TO NORTHERN DEVELOPMENT IN THE PAST.

My Go v e r n m e n t - a n d I w o u l d e x p e c t f u t u r e A u s t r a l i a n .

f

Go v e r n m e n t s - w i l l l o o k in c r e a s i n g l y t o t h i s Co u n c i l

FOR SOUND ADVICE ON THE DEVELOPMENTAL NEEDS OF THE

NORTH. W E KNOW OF THE RESOURCES AND THE D IF F IC U L T IE S

WELL ENOUGH. WHAT A L L OUR GOVERNMENTS NEED IS D ETAILED

AND EXPERT ADVICE ON HOW TO DEVELOP THOSE RESOURCES AND :

OVERCOME THOSE D IF F IC U L T IE S . ΪΗ Ε ESTABLISHMENT OF T H IS '

Co u n c i l m a r k s a n ew p h a s e i n F e d e r a l - S t a t e r e l a t io n s i n

A PARTICULARLY D IF F IC U L T AREA OF UNDOUBTED NATIONAL

IMPORTANCE. I AM CONFIDENT THAT T H IS COUNCIL W IL L BRING

NEW VIGOUR AND NEW IDEAS TO OUR P O L IC IE S FOR NORTHERN

DEVELOPMENT AND MAKE A MOST S IG N IF IC A N T CONTRIBUTION TO THE

PROGRESS OF OUR NATION AND THE L IV IN G STANDARDS OF IT S

PEOPLE.