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Friday, 25 May 1973
Page: 2690

Mr UREN (Reid) (Minister for Urban and Regional Development) - I support the amendment which was moved by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) to deal with 2 matters. It deals with the Opposition's accusation that this Government would deal in patronage of an individual municipality and it relates also to the bypassing of the States. The amendment moved by the Prime Minister states:

The Minister for Urban and Regional Development may, after consultation with, the appropriate Minister of the State concerned, approve . . .

The amendment deals firstly with consultations with the respective State governments, particularly the Ministers concerned, so it is apparent that we do not want to bypass the States. In fact the spirit of our role in urban and regional development is to seek cooperation at all levels of government. That has been the spirit if this Government's policy. I want to quote what the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) said as reported at pages 2520 and 2521 of Hansard. He said:

I do not want, and I am sure the Prime Minister in no circumstances would want, some future government to use this Bill as an instrument for patronage to individual municipal councils. It does have in it that capacity. For instance, an approved regional authority, while it is a body which represents or acts for a group, can under the terms of clause 17 of the Bill, be a single municipal authority. It would therefore be possible to pick out municipality XYZ and the Minister, whoever he may be at the time, could by instrument in writing, make it an approved regional organisation and then give it patronage for political purposes. I put it to the Prime Minister that the correct way in which this should be done is in such a way that it has the supervision of Parliament. With the supervision of Parliament the correct way is to do it by way of regulation and there would be a capacity for debate and it would be argued that it is being done for patronage if that is what some future government - and I am sure it is clear to the Prime Minister -

Mr Whitlam - I accept that

The Leader of the Opposition then went on to say:

I appreciate that It will be moved by somebody on this side of the House that the words 'by, regulation' be substituted for the words 'by instrument in writing'.

The Prime Minister interjected again and said:

The consequence being that if either House objected to the regulation it could be disallowed.

The Leader of the Opposition then said:

That is right I thank the Prime Minister for that interjection. I come now to applications for assistance.

The Leader of the Opposition then went on to deal with another matter. Honourable members can see that the spirit of the amendment moved by the Prime Minister fully concurs with the suggestion and request made by the Leader of the Opposition in the second reading debate. Now the Opposition wants to go further. It wants to have regulations covering the zoning of regions of all councils whether it be an individual or a number of councils creating a region. Quite frankly, as the honourable member for Parramatta (Mr N. H. Bowen) said, the creation of new regions will be a very difficult task. This is a new organisation. There will be consultation between the Department of Urban and Regional Development and the appropriate State ministries responsible, probably the Department of Local Government, with a view to creating regions. I have no doubt that from time to time municipalities will be lobbying their respective House of Representatives members and their senators. If they do not like one zone they will try to get into another zone. Consequently, if the Government accepted the Opposition's proposition, we could get into a chaotic situation in trying to disallow regulations. Therefore, adopting a commonsense approach, there is going to be a real spirit of co-operative federalism. Local government, the State governments and the Australian Government will work together in co-operation to try to deal with local government affairs, which really are in very grave difficulties because of local government indebtedness. To a great extent the former Government is responsible for getting them into such difficulties. I ask the Committee to support the amendment moved by the Prime Minister.

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