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Tuesday, 1 October 1974
Page: 1565

Senator LAUCKE (South Australia) - I rise briefly to deplore the attack which Senator McLaren has made on Mr McLeay this evening. He is obviously playing politics in this matter. Every criticism made by Mr McLeay in respect of the Monarto complex is justified, and on the basis on which Mr McLeay made his criticisms there is no reason at all for anybody to object to his expressing an attitude about how he assesses a given situation. Senator McLaren has sought to infer that in South Australia the first thoughts towards decentralisation emanated from a Labor government. How utterly ridiculous that is. If we trace decentralisation in South Australia over the years we find that there always has been a sound basis for decentralisation.

Senator Poyser - That is utter nonsense.

Senator LAUCKE - I am speaking of facts. South Australia has done a magnificent job in respect of decentralisation based on firm, sound industrial and business premises. Firstly, we in South Australia had no source of power. We were being held to ransom by the coal miners in New South Wales. We were rationing power in our State. Leigh Creek was developed and the Port Augusta power houses were built. That was decentralisation. We gave a local base for a system of reticulating power throughout South Australia. Power was reticulated to the smallest farms in most settled areas on the single wire earth return system, and Senator McLaren knows about this.

Senator McLaren - If it had not been for the support of the Labor Party, Mr Playford would not have got that legislation through to socialise the electricity authority in South Australia, because a lot of your own Party opposed it.

Senator LAUCKE - That was the policy of our Party and it prevailed. We had a base for power generation in South Australia. If we trace the history of decentralisation in South Australia under Liberal and Country League governments we will see emerging a picture which is very sound and good. It is not an artificial basis for progress. We had our power bases on Leigh Creek and Port Augusta. Power provided from those areas formed the basis for the development of Elizabeth and Salisbury and of the motor engineering industry in Adelaide. We decentralised out of immediate Adelaide into the Salisbury and Elizabeth areas. That was a satellite town and was a magnificent decentralisation of a congested metropolitan area. We look for resources which we can use. The south-east, with its forestry areas, is ideal for timber mills. There are pulp mills at Millicent. This is decentralisation based on natural resources which exist in the area. That is firm and viable decentralisation.

We look to Whyalla. The Iron Knob deposits and the Middleback Range give us our steel furnaces and our shipbuilding. Again this is decentralisation in a very firm and purposeful way.

Senator McLaren - But your ex-Premier has just criticised the establishment of Whyalla. He said that Monarto would become another Whyalla.

Senator LAUCKE - I am referring to decentralisation in a way which I admire and which I regard as having bases which are necessary if we are to have a really viable system of population spread over a State. So, we look at the Whyalla set-up; we look at Port Augusta; we look to the south-east; and we look to the Murray. Liberal governments encouraged the production of cardboard boxes, cans and so on to service another very important industry- the fruit canning industry. So, we had a base of natural resources to work from and in South Australia through the years we achieved decentralisation- not for a year or two and not with an unhappy sort of situation of conscription towards a given area, but due to a voluntary desire of people to go to the areas because things were being offered which would give a decent way of life and assure a sound economic background.

I speak tonight because of the implication contained in Senator McLaren's attack. Again I say that I do not admire the introduction of personalities into an attack. The honourable senator should point out his criticism in broad terms. He should not attack a person. Decentralisation in South Australia has been far and wide. It is of a nature which will allow for further decentralisation of services and so on. I am proud of what has been achieved through the years in decentralisation in South Australia by Liberal governments, to the political detriment of the Party. Do honourable senators realise that? The Liberal Party in South Australia was big enough to give away pretty secure political areas.

Senator Poyser - The Liberal Movement was.

Senator LAUCKE - No, this was long before the Liberal Movement. We as a party in our State were big enough to decentralise irrespective of the political prospects for ourselves thereafter. We are proud of what has been achieved in our State.

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