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Thursday, 21 May 1970

Mr KATTER (Kennedy) - I wish to refer to a situation which, although perhaps most intense in my electorate of Kennedy, would apply with equal force in the electorate of Kalgoorlie. I refer to the situation in areas where development is proceeding at such a rate that they are bursting at the seams, making the application of ordinary formulas for growth impossible. The places I have in mind are Mount Isa, Blackwatcr, Moura and other areas that are subject to intense mining development. My remarks on housing could apply to the developing brigalow areas.

Let me refer particularly to the city of Mount Isa. Many of the people who call into my office in Mount Isa are desperately seeking housing for their families. Intense interest is being shown in Mount Isa in the subject of housing. The local authority is in the process of examining the situation very closely with a view to arriving at a blanket formula for the provision of housing. Do not think I am beingparochial in referring to Mount Isa. The Treasury of this country has benefited greatly from the earnings of this great industrial centre. The value of Mount Isa to the Treasury was evident when the tap was turned off during the great strike a few years ago.

Almost daily there is some new development in Mount Isa. My remarks apply almost exclusively to areas where you have sudden and dramatic development. Housing is being provided at a fairly abnormal rate but it is not nearly sufficient to cater for all the people coming to Mount Isa with their families. People are forced to live in caravans and other sub-standard accommodation. It is always regrettable when a man comes to the town to work but cannot bring his wife and family with him due to lack of housing. These men do not have large financial resources. They are forced to wait, hoping that a house will become available.

When a town is dependent almost exclusively on the operations of a great industrial giant such as Mount Isa Mines Limited you might expect the company to provide housing. It has done so to a large extent, but I am afraid much more needs to be done. I sometimes think that institutions such as insurance companies and lending institutions could do more in this field. They have great reservoirs of finance, much of which has come from the earnings of the people who live in places like Mount Isa. Some insurance companies make no secret of the fact that their representatives in those areas each year write$1m worth of business. These companies erect grand buildings in the capital cities. I am not knocking the large capital cities. We are proud of their growth, but their growth should not be at the expense of the areas from which the companies derive their wealth. I do not think anybody would disagree with my view that if you derive tremendous earnings from a country area it is pretty raw to put those earnings into a palatial building in a capital city, at the same time contributing nothing towards the housing of the community from which the earnings are derived.

I do not want to go too deeply at this stage into the matter of housing because I have under way in the area a survey to ascertain housing needs. The local authority in Mount Isa is doing an excellent job in providing housing, and I do not say that simply to throw bouquets. I mean it. But it is necessary to obtain the views of all sections of the community on this matter. That is why we are conducting the survey. I will place the results of the survey before this House, not because I expect the national Parliament immediately to evaluate the situation and do something about one inland city. That is not the point, but a general principle is involved. State governments, with their limited resources, cannot provide facilities in a place that is subjected to abnormal growth of the kind occuring in Mount lsa. I will have a lot more to say about housing in Mount lsa at a later stage.

I turn now to another problem: The provision of medical facilities in these inland communities. There is fairly adequate provision in Mount Isa but a great problem exists in the town of Moura. Five or 6 years ago only a dozen children attended the little country school in Moura. Today 500 or 600 children are enrolled at the school. The problem of Moura's growth is snowballing. My concern arises from the fact that there is no hospital in Moura. 1 know that the Queensland Government is closely examining the problem. Time and again I have confererd with the State member for the area, who is a Cabinet Minister. The Queensland Government is doing as much as its resources will allow with a view to overcoming the problem as soon as possible. If the Queensland Government had the resources to do more I would condemn it for not providing hospital facilities in the town but it has only a certain amount of money and can do only so much, lt is vital that hospital and medical facilities be provided for this community. In a mining community the likelihood of serious accident is greater than it is in other settled inland communities.

We cannot consider the provision of housing in these outback areas without at the same time considering the provision of air conditioning. I am sure that we all concede that it is vital to retain people in these great mining areas which provide billion.; of dollars for Australia in export earnings. When the Australian Industry Development Corporation Bill, which we passed in the early hours of this morning, becomes law the earnings of these areas will increase considerably, making them more important to Australia than they are now. In view of the importance of these areas we should be doing something to improve living conditions in them. In the small town in which 1 live a scheme has been introduced, based on the earnings of the lowest paid worker in the town, to enable air conditioning to be installed in the houses. Our scheme could be a protoype which the Commonwealth Government might examine with a view to assisting local authorities in other areas to introduce similar schemes. If one little country town can do this, surely the Com monwealth Government can do something. 1 propose to place before this House details of the scheme which operates in my town. 1 am sure that all honourable member will support it.

This is my grievance. We will have to evaluate the situations of these communities which are bursting at the seams - growing at an abnormal rate - with a view to providing the States with financial assistance to meet this abnormal growth. IF any honourable member wants to se<; a classic example of the abnormal growth to which I have referred I shall be happy to receive him in my electorate. Many people come into the area, particularly at election time-

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