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Thursday, 15 August 1974
Page: 1035

Senator MILLINER (Queensland) - I found it rather amusing tonight to hear Senator Durack criticise the Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones) for some sloppy preparation of material for the Senate. One would think that Senator Durack, having said all those unkind things about the Minister, would be perfect himself. But what do we find? In relation to the first amendment he has circulated in the Senate he had to say: 'I am sorry, Mr Chairman, but I should not have put that in because it is completely wrong'. Have honourable senators ever heard such an admission from one who is so suspect himself that all he can find in others is suspicion? Senator Hall referred to the actions of the Premier of his State of South Australia. I think that he has been a little fortunate. My political opinion may be coloured too, but if the honourable senator had had to work under a Country Party Premier since 1957 I think he would admit, seeing there are so many things that need to be done in Queensland, that it is about time an Australian Government took an interest in the affairs of the State governments and the local government authorities.

Senator Greenwood,who is trying to interject, comes from a pocket-handkerchief State so he had better keep out of it. He has had about 15 hours in the last 2 days so I suggest he leave it at that.

Mention was made tonight of the road from Brisbane to Cairns. Honourable senators who have been on this main road would know how many miles are single track areas. Surely it is time, having regard to the number of motor cars that use this road, that something was done to improve it. I say, with respect, that Senator Durack endeavoured to gild the lily in the remarks that he made tonight. May I remind the honourable senator that by seeking to delete subclause ( 1 ) of clause 4 he consequently has no clause at all left.

Senator Durack - Of course we have. We have the rest of them.

Senator MILLINER - Where do you say that you start clause 4 in the rest of your amendment? If the honourable senator is going to be so pedantic as to pick on Ministers he should be a little more careful in his own draftsmanship. Senator Durack has referred to all the powers of the Minister in clause 4(1). But he fails to give the Senate and the people of Australia the benefit of his knowledge of sub-clause (2). He says that the Minister restricts to himself all the responsibilities in clause 4(1). But the wording of sub-clause (2) says something entirely different from that, and it must be read in conjunction with subclause ( 1 ). For the benefit of the Committee I will read the appropriate part of sub-clause (2) which states:

For the purpose of this Act, the Minister, after consultation with the appropriate Minister of a State -

What does that suggest? Does that not suggest that we will try to get an over-all situation throughout Australia, and that the Australian Government Minister- your Minister- would then co-operate and consult with the States on the programs that would be most beneficial to the States and to Australia? Are honourable senators opposite Australians, or will they continue to adopt the parochial attitudes that they have demonstrated in some quarters tonight? I say with due respect that there is absolutely nothing wrong with sub-clauses ( 1 ) and (2) of clause 4 because they give adequate provision for the Minister to confer with the States. There is no ambiguity whatsoever about what is contained in the sub-clauses. Sub-clause (2) states:

For the purposes of this Act, the Minister, after consultation with the appropriate Minister of a State-

(a)   may approve programs by way of-

(   i ) the construction of rural arterial roads;

(   ii ) the construction of developmental roads;

(   iii ) The construction and maintenance of rural local roads; and

(iv)   minor traffic engineering and road safety improvements, respectively, in respect of the State for a period to which this section applies;

It has been suggested tonight that the Minister wants to ride roughshod over a State. There is nothing further from the truth when we examine the wording of sub-clause (2). It is all very well for Senator Greenwood who, I repeat, comes from the pocket handkerchief State of Victoria, to sit back and direct all the animosity at his disposal at Ministers of the Crown. The fact remains that this is the first attempt in the history of Australia that an Australian Government is trying to do something for local authorities. Consequently I urge the Senate to reject the amendment moved by Senator Durack.

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