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Tuesday, 16 October 1973
Page: 2140

Mr MATHEWS (CASEY, VICTORIA) - Has the attention of the Minister for Transport been drawn to statements by the Victorian Minister for Transport that in offering the Victorian Government $9. 6m for upgrading public transport in that State the Australian Government asked the Victorian Government for representation on transport instrumentalities such as the Railways Board, the Transport Regulation Board and the Tramways Board? Is there any truth in these allegations? What is his reaction to the suggestion by the Victorian Leader of the Opposition, Mr Holding, that co-operation between the 2 Governments would be improved by Australian Government representation on the Melbourne and Metropolitan Transportation Committee?

Mr CHARLES JONES - In my opinion, the Victorian Minister for Transport has completely misrepresented the position. In February, when I, on behalf of the Government, made the offer to meet two-thirds of the cost of upgrading urban public transport, the then Minister for Transport in Victoria, Mr Wilcox, seemed to be quite enthusiastic about the proposal and raised no opposition whatsoever to the proposition that we would want a say in and would want to know what was happening with respect to public transport in Victoria. I was surprised and disappointed to receive recently correspondence from Mr Meagher, on behalf of the Victorian Government, stating that it was not prepared to agree to our proposal. I now refer to the claim that we are trying to dominate the affairs of the Victorian transport system and that we were going to veto the Victorian Government decisions.

This is not true. All we want to know is what is happening. We want to know how our money is being spent After all, we are responsible for collecting the money and our offer of $9. 66m was what the Victorian Government could spend this year. As far as a final discussion on this matter is concerned, there was to have been a meeting of the Australian Transport Advisory Council in Sydney last Friday week. But due to the trouble at the airports the Council was unable to meet. There will be a meeting at an early date. In fact, we are trying to arrange a meeting for 26 October. Although one Minister has indicated that he cannot attend the meeting on that date we hope to be able to iron out this matter at the meeting. But as the honourable member suggests, we will be quite happy to accept representation on the Melbourne and Metropolitan Transportation Committee because that is where the planning of transport in Victoria is taking place. That is what we are interested in, not in vetoing the Victorian Government financial affairs.

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