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Thursday, 28 May 1981
Page: 2811

Mr CHARLES JONES(8.45) -I am not going to say that I join with the honourable member for Boothby (Mr Steele Hall) but if he is going to plug the case for South Australia I will again emphasise the point to the Minister for Transport (Mr Hunt). I hope the Minister will say that the New South Wales appropriation is inequitable and unfair and that New South Wales should be getting a greater share of funds. To emphasise the point I state that at least South Australia on the Bureau of Roads recommendation of 1977-78 got an increase in the actual Commonwealth grant, whereas New South Wales had a recommendation from the Bureau of Roads of a 34.6 per cent share but it got 32.4 per cent. In today's money terms it is costing New South Wales $15.07m. That is how much that State is worse off. I think the Minister will find New South Wales is much worse off as far as the rest of the States are concerned. I ask the Minister whether he considers New South Wales unfairly treated. If he does, what is he going to do about it when I have already drawn his attention to the facts. I referred to the figures from the table he gave me yesterday in the House on how the funds are distributed.

Mr Hunt —Can I answer that?

Mr CHARLES JONES —Yes, the Minister may answer that.

Mr Hunt —We hope to get--

The CHAIRMAN —Order! The Minister can answer the question in due time. The Minister will remain seated.

Mr CHARLES JONES —Mr Chairman, please let the Minister interject on my speech.

The CHAIRMAN —Order! The honourable member for Newcastle may proceed.

Mr CHARLES JONES —I look forward with interest to the Minister's response so that he can give us an assurance that New South Wales has been badly done by for years and should be getting more funds than it is getting. If the Minister were to share the whole of the money raised by way of fuel tax and fuel levy, New South Wales and Victoria would do badly under the appropriation and allocation of those funds. We are looking for another $15.07m to make up the shortfall that New South Wales is not getting against the Bureau of Roads recomendation. I will proceed to a consideration of the various clauses of the Bill. I always feel that when we deal with roads we look too closely at the question of roads and not at some of the alternatives in the overall transport debate and at the ways Federal Parliament should be appropriating money to assist the States to provide a better transport system in total. I cited figures as to what freeways can do in relation to saving lives and the saving of fuel, which in itself pays for at least 50 per cent of the cost of those roads. It is not possible to put a price on a human life but as was stated by the National Roads and Motorists Association in an article from which I quoted in a speech earlier tonight, there would be the saving of a considerable number of lives on the Sydney-Newcastle road if we were to have a four-lane divided carriageway all the way. I do not know what price we put on those lives but it must run into millions and millions of dollars more than the cost of the road itself. In looking at roads we should be concerned with a total transport approach and how we can improve it. As far as the Labor Government was concerned, it attempted to tackle the road problem by dealing with it as a transport problem and dealing with the overall question. That is why it came up with a $500m urban public transport assistance program for both trams, trains and buses or whatever the main mode of transport was in the particular city. I am sorry to say that this Government has given notice that it will abandon that program which is in the interest of transport as a whole. It is an alternative to providing expressways and high speed roads through cities. They only add to pollution and make for additional problems in the cities. Mr Chairman, I am referring to the paragraphs in the clauses concerned.

The CHAIRMAN —The honourable member is ranging rather freely in his remarks in this Committee debate.

Mr CHARLES JONES —The subject matter we are dealing with is roads, and I am putting an alternative case.

The CHAIRMAN —The Chair will hear the honourable member further. It would be obliged if he addressed himself purposefully to his task.

Mr CHARLES JONES —Thank you, Mr Chairman. The Australian Labor Party endeavoured to use public transport as an alternative to building expressways through cities. The road engineers love them but I do not think they are in the best interests of the community as a whole, especially when we consider the experiment in Los Angeles. The transport system in that city is based on highways. The system in Los Angeles is a disaster. The transport authorities would love to pull down their roads and to restore the trams and trains they got rid of many years ago. New York, London, Tokyo, Paris, Frankfurt and many other major capital cities of the world have not relied on roads to solve their transport problems; they have used public transport as an alternative. These are just a few of the things that this Government should be looking at.

When the Labor Government unfortunately got the sack in 1975 a submission had been lodged-this should be right up the alley of this Government with its free enterprise philosophy-to provide assistance to private bus operators. In Sydney and Melbourne in particular they provide the major part of the urban transport system in the outer suburbs-in areas where people must have cars because there is an inadequate bus, tram or train service. The Minister should look at this overall transport approach to the problem of roads instead of doing what is now being done, namely, reducing the amount of money being approprirated in real money terms. There has been an increase in money but in real money terms there has been a substantial percentage reduction in the total amount of money being provided for roads by the three levels of government-Federal, State and local government.