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Speech by Minister at Truck Plant in Victoria



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Issued by:-

EMBARGOED UNTIL 7.00 P.M. 27/11/70

The Minister for the Interior ■. · ' . _ v ·-·/·

SPEECH BY THE MINISTER FOR THE INTERIOR. THE HONOURABLE P. J. NIXON, M.P., IN OFFICIALLY OPENING THE KENWORTH MOTOR TRUCKS PTY.LTD. PLANT AT BAYSWATER, VICTORIA. 27/11/70

Mr» Aitken, Mr. Peters, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

I thank you, gentlemen, for your invitation to me to be here with

you tonight at the start of what is an important venture. It is important

not only for those who work here and the people in t he.surrounding

district who derive indirect benefit because of its establishment; but

it is also important because as Kenworth is an American company it is

another example of overseas faith in the development and potential of

Australia. .

Overseas investors and companies like Kenworth do not come to

a country and lay down a million-dollar investment, unless they are sure

of their ground. So, as a member of a government which believes overseas

investment has a vital role to play in our national development, I welcome

you here. · · ■ .

Kenworth trucks first appeared on the Australian scene in an

organised way as imports by distributors in 1963. It is the measure of

the acceptance of their product that Kenworth have established this

factory, and are producing trucks with substantial local content, and I

congratulate you on your success.

I understand, Sir, that it is your aim not only to sell on the

local market but also to export from Australia to right-hand drive markets

around the world. ' ·

So in one hit, ladies and gentlemen, we see established a home

industry and an export earner. .

Export is, of course, a magic word. The money from exports .

builds up our overseas funds and enables us to buy goods we do not make.

-Without our vital export industries our economy and development would

shrivel.

Development also is a magic word. We in Australia are seeing

a transformation brought about by development.

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From our earliest days, the nation has been dependent for most

of its overseas earnings on the agricultural industries, particularly wool.

Despite prevailing forces, I see no reason to suggest that in the

long-term there will be any diminution in these farming industries and

despite the recent disastrous wool prices, Primary Industry is still our

big earner. . . '

But Australia is a lucky country. In recent years, mighty new

sectors of our economy have developed — manufacturing industry and minerals.

So today, we· have a powerful, vibrant, broadly-based economy

standing on two general pillars — primary industry and secondary industry.

This means that if a section of the economy has a problem, the

economy as a whole can absorb the punch without bringing us to our knees.

As an example, take the drought which has afflicted parts of

Australia in the past several years and which is still crippling areas of

Queensland. Twenty years ago, the effects of this drought would have

withered our economy on the vine. Today, the economy can not only stand

the shock but also provide assistance to the afflicted until their

conditions return to normal. n

Development of our primary and secondary industries and the

discovery of' minerals in far-flung areas brought with them a need for

expansion of our service industries, and of our public, utilities including

roads. ’

In these days of the so-called "mineral boom" and other eye­

catching developments in this country, people have tended to overlook the

less dramatic growth of the Service Industries, including transportation.

One could in all fairness describe what has happened to Australian

Transportation in the last ten years as revolutionary.

No m o d e m nation's economy can grow, or even exist, without a .

viable transportation network. A nation's economy will only, grow and

develop as a direct function of the efficiency of its transportation network.

. Australia is both fortunate and unfortunate in respect of its

transportation network. ;

It is fortunate in that all five of the classic modes of

transportation are viable and functional. We are well represented with

rail, pipeline, airline, shipping and road transport. Each of these five

methods is doing a magnificent job of accommodating, and growing with our

nation's development.

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Australia is unfortunate in that Our population centres are

few ih number, dense in character and distant from each other0 Generally

speaking, transportation costs within Australia will always be

relatively high compared to a geographically small and dense nation

such as Japano ■ ■ . .

. Because of our size, we have, for instance, a seemingly

insatiable requirement for good roads0 .

And I want to say something now about the development of

roads in Australia — because this has been an incredibly costly,

absolutely vital and often-unsung facet of our growth,

. It is worth recalling that at the time of Federation railways

provided the principal means of transport between centres of population.

Roads.were of local importance only, and the motor vehicle something

of an eccentricity, . -

. Today there are 600,000 miles of roads and vehicular tracks

in Australia, '

Roads, some of them literally the only sign of civilisation

for scores of miles, have opened up this country — to the farmer, the

miner and the tourist, . ' '

It did not happen overnight. It has had a deep financial and

planning involvement over the years by State and Commonwealth governments

and local authorities, ' .

Under the Constitution, the Commonwealth has only limited

powers on roads and road transport and has exercised these primarily

by granting financial assistance to the States for road construction

and maintenance, ' · '

One of the most important aspects of Commonwealth assistance

is what is known as Commonwealth Aid Roads, under which the Commonwealth

has been providing varying sums of money to the States since 1923,

In the current five year period, the Commonwealth is giving

the States a total of $1,252 million. This is an increase of 67 percent .

over that provided in the previous five year period, .

In fact, in the past twenty years Commonwealth aid Roads

-Assistance has totalled $2,830 million.

That is an enormous.figure in any language — and that is not

the whole story, . .

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. Thus the Commonwealth contributes.approximately one-third of

the total amount spent annually throughout Australia on roads and

bridges, with the States and local authorities providing the rest„

The influence of roads and road transport on communities and

economies is very marked in an area of my own responsibility as Minister

for the Interior,, That is in the Northern Territory,

Except for the line between Adelaide and Alice Springs, there is

no railway in the Northern Territory, Therefore, most of the territory

is dependent on trucks for its surface transport. Not so many years

k ago, the swaying, jolting camel train was the link between the outback

and the towns. Today, fast, efficient, heavy-load trucks bring the

provisions and take away the produce»

And now, better roads and better trucks are bringing about the

disappearance of that romantic legendary figure : — the drover oh horseback.

. He is being replaced by the beef road and the road train.

Droving might be a romantic, adventurous occupation in the public

mind.. But it is a tedious operation and a long trek takes many pounds

of healthy weight and quality off a beast. This means that a beast which

started its journey in good condition would be under par when it faces the

market. Thus, the station owner directly, and the economy indirectly, loses

money. ' . .

" So it is that the Commonwealth has made available or committed

$109 million for the construction of beef roads in the Northern Territory,

Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia. When completed, these

roads will total 3,600 miles in the north of Australia.

Consideration also is being given to a further major redevelopment .

road programme in the Northern Territory.

The Commonwealth recognises the need for a national roads network

as part of a viable transport system. We are lucky that our transport

methods are efficient, but we have a big problem in distance and the extra

costs that incurs.

Thus rationalisation and modernisation of transport are topics under

constant study by State and Commonwealth governments and private enterprise

organisations. '

It behoves us to carefully study our transportation requirements,

not only for today but also for the future.

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So it is that the government has recently established a Bureau

of Transport Economics» The Bureau's main functions will. be.to study

and report on the cost of transport operations in Australia; .to suggest

measures which will reduce transport costs; and to develop proposals

for providing a reliable, safe, fast national transport system for

industries and passengers„

The object is to provide basic data to enable a more accurate

assessment of relative costs in surface transport. '

Results of the Bureau* s research will act as a catalyst for

Commonwealth-State joint action where need for this is proven.,

Because transport costs form such a large part of the costs

of our goods, any new ideas or techniques that the Bureau's inquiries

can unearth should be of great value„

One of the reasons our road transport system has remained

efficient has been the continued advances in mechanical knowhow and

the wide range of products of the truck-manufacturing industry0

The truck manufacturers in Australia now face stiffen competition

because of the establishment of this Kenworth plant.

Competition is a good thing. It helps keep prices and costs

within reasonable bounds and it leads to the development of even better

products. .

So, Sir, in conclusion let me reiterate a welcome to Australia

to Kenworth Motor Trucks Pty.Limited. Your investment here is most

creditable and I am sure you will never regret it.

I offer you good wishes for the future and I now have much

pleasure in declaring this Plant officially open.

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