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Thursday, 10 March 1977
Page: 82

Mr CORBETT (MARANOA, QUEENSLAND) -Does the Minister for Transport still receive reports on the road needs of Australia from the amalgamated Bureau of Roads and the Bureau of Transport Economics such as were previously provided by the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads? If such reports are provided, to what extent are they affected by the restriction on the independence of the amalgamated Bureau in comparison with the independence which was enjoyed by the former Bureau of Roads?

Mr NIXON (GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA) (Minister for Transport) -The last Bureau of Roads report which was given to me and which was tabled in the House was provided in 197S. The new amalgamated body of the Bureau of Roads and the Bureau of Transport Economics has not yet embarked on the exercise of providing information to me for the purpose of drafting the legislation which will be introduced into the House during this session and which will become the Roads Grants Act. I would like to assure the honourable member, as I have assured every shire council around Australia, that the amalgamation of the Bureau of Roads with the Bureau of Transport Economics will lead to greater expertise, greater information and a greater capacity of that new body to provide correct information to the Government when making its decisions on road spending. I also advise the House that the amalgamated body will indeed be undertaking the normal roads needs survey which traditionally has been undertaken by the Bureau of Roads over the years. That will be done in consultation with local government authorities and with State government authorities, as is normally the case on each occasion. Therefore all this concern that is being expressed about the amalgamation of the Bureau of Roads and the Bureau of Transport Economics, in my view, is not real. In my view, the amalgamated body will serve this Parliament and this nation much better than the two separate bodies. As to the question of independence, the Bureau of Transport Economics was never a statutory authority, and I do not think any of its reports, all of which have been tabled in this House, have been challenged as to integrity, nor has the volume or the value of the work done by the Bureau of Transport Economics been challenged. I do not hold with the view that change will result in terms of independence because of the amalgamation of the two bodies.

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