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Monday, 15 October 1973
Page: 2109

Mr ENDERBY (Minister for Secondary Industry) - The humbug of the Country Party members - these defenders of privilege and of profiteering - can be seen in a better light when one hears their talk about inflation. The Government moves to stop the spiralling escalation of land prices in this way - the best and only way - and what do those members do? They spring to the defence of the people who want $5,000 an acre for land that cost them $32 an acre. I can tell a story that occurred with respect to land in the Australian Capital Territory. In the Australian Capital Territory 9,000 square miles of land was acquired in 1909 under the Seat of Government Adminnstration Act at 1908 values. It was acquired at about $2 an acre. I am talking of the land on which Canberra stands.

The land on which this building in which we are meeting stands was acquired for about $2 an acre in 1909 at 1908 values. This was done because of the foresight of those politicians - statesmanlike politicians and not Country Party members like those we have listened to tonight. That magnificent success which was able to be achieved in Canberra is a tribute not to a Labor government or a non-Labor government but to the foresight of those people long ago. Canberra has become the most beautiful and planned city in Australia.

The Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) referred to the squalor that exists in Darwin. He referred to the lack of planning, the lack of facilities, of sewerage, of kerbing and guttering, of parks, gardens, trees and all those features that go to make the good life. Such squalor does not exist in Canberra because of foresight. Honourable members opposite would not want such conditions in Canberra. But in the forefront, in the vanguard of the opposition to these improvements being effected in Darwin, is the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder). He is the one man who does not want to have it happen in Darwin. He defends most vigorously these people who want to convert $32 an acre into $5,000 an acre.

Mr Calder - I am advocating on behalf or the people who have only 5 acres of lane.

Mr ENDERBY - The honourable member knows that in the area under consideration there is no kerbing and guttering, no parks and gardens and no schools.

Mr Calder - You-

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! I have already warned the honourable member for the Northern Territory. He has already spoken. He has been continually interjecting during the speech of the Minister for Secondary Industry.

Mr Calder - I am putting him right.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -The honourable member also has interjected when previous speakers have been talking. 1 warn the honourable member for the Northern Territory.

Mr ENDERBY - I have referred to the hypocrisy and humbug of Country Party speakers and I want to say again what I have said before about them. They engage in conspiracies against the public interest. They assist, aid and abet conspiracies against the public interest. They have referred to a petition. Let me read out a statutory declaration that refers to the petition that has been mentioned - the so-called petition against acquisition. This statutory declaration is by a Mr Edgar who solemnly and sincerely declares that:

About 6 weeks ago a 'Mr A. Albany approached me to sign a petition against the acquisition of land.

Mr Albanyis one of the biggest landowners in the area. The declaration continues:

He told me if 1 signed and the move was successful

That is the move to disallow the acquisition - and I aligned myself with him I would stand to gain $40,000 for my land.

He is a little man - an honest man. His declaration continues:

I considered this ' an inducement to my signing, to gain cash. I refused.

So much for the petition. This is a statutory declaration to that effect. Again we have a Country Party spokesman in the forefront - in the vanguard. All the time wherever there is someone seeking to get something for nothing - the cost will be passed on to the consumer, to the citizen, to the ratepayer - one will find Country Party members in the forefront with flags held high for privilege and vested interests. Let me give another example. It is well known thai because of the failure of the previous Government to complete the acquisition of all land in the Australian Capital Territory years ago so that it could be properly developed for houses to be built on it for families and people who wanted to live the good life, some pockets of land remained. That land could have been acquired by the taxpayers at $2 an acre. The previous Government eventually was forced into moving to do something because of the growing scandal of rising land prices in about 1971. Instead of having to pay about $200,000 for 9,000 acres - and again the benefit of that would have been passed on to the people who will live in Tuggeranong - what was the asking price? lt was S35m. lt was the previous Government's malicious neglect that produced that asking price of $35m. If that price is upheld it will have to be passed on to every poor family which goes to live in Tuggeranong, the new satellite city being built to the south of Canberra. Let no one be under any misapprehension. The guilty men are the members of the Country Party. It is only because of the weakness of their Liberal Party colleagues that they are allowed to sit in this House and push the Liberal Party into these situations. If the right thing had been done years ago that scandal would not have occurred. The fact that only one pocket of land was involved, and not many, probably can be attributed to the fact that the Country Party has never had much influence in the Australian Capital Territory. That can be put down to the good political sense of the people of Canberra. In the one part of Australia where the Country Party has had influence - the Northern Territory - this scandal of the 32 square miles upholds. It is only in the Northern Territory where there is influence from people such as Mr Geoff Letts, the Country Party member for Victoria River, that wc have a situation where a man can buy land at $32 an acre and then demand that the taxpayers of Australia pay him $5,000 an acre before he will let people build houses on it.

Mr Calder - You have no plan.

Mr ENDERBY - Was there a plan for Canberra when it was acquired in 1909? Think your position out, man. The things which I have just said have been said by others. I should like to quote a proposition by that very great Englishman, Sir Winston Churchill, on this very subject. It bears being heard over and over again.

Mr Viner - I have heard it before.

Mr ENDERBY - Well, the honourable member is going to hear it again because it is worthwhile hearing. Sir Winston Churchill said:

Unearned increments in land value are not the only form of undeserved profit but they are the, principal form and they are derived from processes which are positively detrimental to the general public.

Those remarks should be reflected upon. In this case land has been bought for $32 an acre and it has been sought to be converted into $5,000 an acre in a short period of time. Sir Winston went on:

Land, which is a necessity of human existence, which is strictly limited in extent and which is fixed in geographical position, differs from all other forms of property.

A landowner who happens to own a plot of land on the outskirts of a great city-

This is what we are talking about, the outskirts of Darwin - watches the busy population around him making the city larger and more famous every day and, all the while, he sits still and does nothing.

This is particularly so in the case of the speculator. Sir Winston continued:

Roads are made, services are improved, and water is brought from reservoirs a hundred miles away.

All this is done with the taxpayers' money. The quotation continues:

And all the while the landowner sits still-

This like this little gentleman who paid $32 an acre and now wants $5,000 an acre. He did nothing for that land to improve its value. Sir Winston continued.

Everyone of these improvements is effected by the labour and the cost of other people.

To not one of these improvements does the landowner, as a landowner, contribute and yet every one of them enhances the values of his land.

He renders no service to the community, he contributes nothing to the general welfare, he contributes nothing to the process from which his own enrichment is derived.

The population of the city grows and keeps growing.

This is like Darwin where the population is growing at the rate of 12 per cent per annum. He continued:

And, at last the land becomes ripe for sale, and that means the price becomes too tempting to be resisted any longer.

And then, and not until then, is it sold by the inch or by the yard, at 10 to SO times its true value. This evil process strikes at every form of activity.

The more a municipality has improved the area-

He is referring to the taxpayers, the citizens - the more it will have to pay for any land now required for future improvements.

And, not matter where you look or what examples you select, you will see that every form of enterprise, every step in material progress, is only undertaken after the landowner has skimmed the cream off for himself.

And everywhere today the man or the public body who wishes to put land to its highest use is forced to pay a preliminary fine to the man who is putting it to an inferior use and, in some cases, to no use at all.

This is similar to the man in the Northern Territory who bought land for $32 an acre and wishes to sell it for $5,000 an acre. Nothing has been done to the land; not even cattle have been run on it. Sir Winston continued:

And its owner is able to levy toll upon all other forms of wealth and any other form of industry.

The good senators who considered this matter last week realised the strength of the acquisition, as indeed the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt), who now sits opposite realised last year the strength, merit and purpose of the acquisition. He did not acquire the land. I do not wish to go into why he did not do so. But he recognised the merit and the strength of the acquisition. Circumstances overtook him. I think we should all understand this because, after all, it was 1972. But the honourable member for Gwydir recognised the merit of the acquisition, and 1 say that to his credit. He is perhaps the only member of the Country Party, that I except from what I have said. This acquisition will allow the Government properly to plan the development of Darwin and properly to provide facilities such as schools, houses, land, parks and gardens, kerbing and guttering and all the amenities of the good life which the people of Darwin have been denied for so long.

Question resolved in the negative.

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