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Tuesday, 11 December 1973
Page: 2669

Senator JESSOP (South Australia) - The Opposition will not oppose these Bills which, I understand, are before the Senate in the form of a cognate debate. On the contrary any positive step towards decentralisation and development in regional areas meets with the full approval of the Opposition Parties. I should like to refer in particular for a moment to the Albury-Wodonga Development Bill 1973 because there are some aspects of the legislation which have given concern to the residents living in that area. I believe that the questions associated with the proposal should be answered before the Bills are passed by the Senate. I hope that the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Cavanagh) will be able to answer some of the residents' questions. The whole bone of contention was drawn to my attention when I received a telegram from, I presume, the Secretary of the Albury-Wodonga Growth Centre Land Holders Association, Mr R. P. Adams. The telegram stated that the Albury-Wodonga residents are strongly opposed to many features of the development legislation and urge the Opposition in the Senate to refer the Bill to the appropriate Senate committee for detailed examination and full debate.

Senator Wheeldon - Is that the same Mr Adams who was the defeated Liberal candidate?

Senator JESSOP -I am not aware of the identity of the gentleman to that degree. I understand that the residents in the area could be concerned about the situation. I received a deputation today from the councils of the City of Albury and the City of Wodonga. They put it to me that the consultative committee did not seem to pay a great deal of attention to consulting local people about the development in this area. It seems that the consultative committee and the State Government made some decisions and then told the local people about them rather than doing it the other way and ascertaining the local feeling first. It should be remembered that the envisaged corporation will pre empt and in fact render local government virtually unnecessary with respect to the development of 30,000 acres that is proposed to be acquired in this particular area. Clause 8 of the Bill states:

(   1 ) The functions of the Corporation under this Act are-

(a)   to provide, in relation to the growth complex, engineering, architectural, town and country planning, building, construction and other services for Australia and for authorities of Australia;

That part of the Bill mystifies me somewhat. Perhaps the Minister might let me know a little more about it. I am referring to the part which refers to 'other services for Australia and for authorities of Australia'.

Referring to local government in particular, it seems that this Corporation will have open ended control over the development and construction of roads etc. within the area defined by this particular complex and that local government virtually will be non-existent. In effect, it means that a corporation which is selected by the Commonwealth and the States will have the say over what goes on in that area. This means that the elected representation aspect of this sort of development will be ignored. I think the local government authorities in that area have a case for participation, although I believe the matter would be more properly dealt with by State Government legislation referring to these land acquisition commissions and the Development Corporation itself. It appears to me that the State Government should consider providing some sort of time limit, perhaps 5 years, during which the Corporation can operate without local government participation and after that particular period the land should be handed back to the local government authority to deal with in the usual way.

Another matter which again I think would be more properly dealt with by State legislation is the acquisition of land. I believe that when Federal funds are being used for this purpose the land should be acquired on just terms and also that the right of appeal against a valuation ought to be provided. I do not think that there is any purpose in suggesting that that ought to be properly done in the context of these Bills. However, I suggest to the Minister that it would be appropriate for the Australian Government to recommend this action to the State governments in the matters to which I have referred.

The Opposition approves wholeheartedly the concept of the development in this area. It is in keeping with the policy of the Liberal Party to encourage development in these areas. One thing that does concern me with respect to the appointment of the Corporation is that it Will have 5 members, one appointed by the Australian Government and one appointed by each State. There Will be 2 local government appointees. I point out and stress the point that the quorum for the Corporation wil be three which could effectively allow the Government appointees completely to control the operations of the Corporation. I ask the Minister to look at that matter also and to make sure that there is proper consultation with local government.

I was a bit disappointed that the debate in the other place was somewhat curtailed when the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) rose in an attempt to speak for 3 or 4 minutes on the BUI in relation to the development in the Monarto region in South Australia. The Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) was rather unkind. Mr Giles was sat down and gagged on this occasion, in spite of the fact that he wished to speak for only a short time. I thought that the Minister adopted a very high handed attitude to Mr Giles on that occasion when he suggested that none of the questions would be answered because of the attempt by Mr Giles to have a word on this matter. That makes it more important that the Minister in this place answer the questions which I have put to him about the effect on local government and also the operation of the Corporation as it effects the operation of other authorities in Australia.

One other aspect to which I wish to refer is a question which was raised by Senator Young at an Estimates Committee meeting not long ago.

He said that some money was to be spent from the Department of Secondary Industry vote on the Albury-Wodonga area. He was referring to the proposed expenditure of $85,000 in the estimates for that Department. He assumed that a lot of this money would be spent in the AlburyWodonga area and he was not critical of this. But he also referred to the Monarto development area in South Australia and wanted to know how much money would be forthcoming from that Department for use in the South Australian project. The officer of the Department indicated very quickly that the money was not set aside for use by the States but was indicative of an undertaking to provide information and research which would assist the government concerned. I suggest that with developments of this type, particularly those on the banks of the river which means so much to South Australia, every effort ought to be exerted to ensure that pollution of the River Murray water is minimal. My great concern is that any development in States upstream of South Australia must have this point foremost in mind, as South Australia is experiencing great difficulties because of the pollution of the River Murray. I leave that thought with the Minister and ask him to keep it in mind whenever the Albury-Wodonga development is being considered. I ask him to pay due regard also to the concern which has been expressed by local government councillors in the region because I believe that local involvement in these projects is essential to their successful completion.

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