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Thursday, 9 December 1971
Page: 4408

Mr KENNEDY (Bendigo) - We have just been listening to the authentic voice of 19th century Australian Toryism. The greatest progress that the honourable member for Warringah (Mr MacKellar) could say he had seen in the 30 or 40 years he has occupied this land was the emergence of transport from the primeval stage of the horse and sulky. No doubt if he had been articulate then he would have opposed that too, most likely as being an interference with State rights. I find that sort of view taken by the honourable member incomprehensible. It is hard to believe that honourable members on the other side of the House can continue to express that sort of view. I represent an area that is partly urban and partly rural. It is a provincial electorate. I can tell the honourable members opposite - there have been only 2 who have spoken in this debate and. incidentally, there have been none from the Country Party - that for the people I represent and for most people in the countryside this is not a matter to be put oft again and again, lt is a serious human problem which is best expressed by :the simple term "heartbreak'. This is something which is often felt by families when ;they lose their children to the metropolis at the end of their school days.

Mr Garland - Give us something specific.

Mr KENNEDY - Just hold on a minute. If rhs Minister wishes to speak the Opposition will move for an extension of time for the debate and he can speak for whatever time he likes. If he will just wait he will hear some comments which may be of value to him.

Mr Garland - Do not be abusive.

Mr KENNEDY - I am not being abusive. I am pointing out a few facts. The honourable member for Warringah said: We think there are things more urgent than setting up a select committee'. He rubbished the whole idea of a select committee. He said that the Opposition had moved for '.he establishment of 21 select committees, but what he did not point out was that the Government had knocked back every one of them because it does not want to educate itself on the problems of the Australian poeple or on the remedies. It has refused to accept advice from outside. It is a typical, complacent Tory government; it could not care less. The honourable member for Warringah said that a select committee is not appropriate because it is an urgent matter but be did not, of course, amend the motion the Opposition has moved. Nor did he explain why, if this problem was being treated so seriously, the Government's committee has been mee' ing with State officials for 7 years. It has met 4 times in 7 years and it still has not produced a report on decentralisation for the Australian people and the Government to study. This shows how urgent decentralisation is to honourable members opposite. There is not enough time left in this debate - only 5 minutes remain - for me to go much further. The simple point that the Opposition is making is that there is an urgent need for effective Commonwealth action on decentralisation We all have the chance by accepting this motion to inform ourselves so that we can decide what we can do about it. This is an opportunity for all Par ies to be represented, including the Country Party, whose representatives have been as silent as the grave today. They have nothing to contribute except a request that their dwindling farm vote be made even more secure against population changes in the future. There are Liberal members who represent rural areas. The honourable member for Ballaarat (Mr Erwin) should be concerned about the economic position of the provincial city which he represents. He has nothing to say. He will not support a move in this Parliament today to set up a committee on decentralisation. The honourable member for Ballaarat should at some time, either on the adjournment or during this debate, express his views on decentralisation.

Mr Erwin - You are full of wind.

Mr KENNEDY - I would not like to prick the honourable member too often either. There are many things which can be done. We are putting a very simple proposition to the House and to the Government today, lt is tha! there should be a select committee from all parties because unless we accept that there must be Commonwealth participation in decentralisation there will be no decentralisation. There will be a continuing over-centralisation of population in city regions and a continuation of stagnation in rural and provincial areas. That is a simple proposition. Does the Government support decentralisation or does it not? If it does it should do something about it and not keep up the delaying action which has now been going on for at least 7 years so far as the State and Commonwealth officials committee is concerned. Because of a shortage of time there is not much more I can say although there is a lot I would like to say. 1 am particularly concerned about this situation but I have agreed to let the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby) speak briefly on the subject also.

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