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Tuesday, 7 May 1985
Page: 1733

Mr O'KEEFE —My question is addressed to the Minister for Transport. I refer to the announcement of the Australian land transport program. I ask the Minister: First, does the program provide a co-ordinated approach to the development of future land transport networks? Secondly, does the program confirm the strong commitment of the Federal Government to main road development as outlined in the pre-election commitment of the Government? Thirdly, does the development of the Australian land transport program tie in with the commitment of the Government to developing closer relationships with local government in the implementation of its programs and policies?

Mr PETER MORRIS —I thank the honourable member for his question. The Australian land transport program legislation to be introduced tomorrow will show the Parliament the co-ordinated approach that this Government is taking to the funding of all forms of land transport. By that I mean the building and maintenance of roads, road safety promotion and road safety research and the provision of a limited amount of money for the upgrading of interstate main line rail networks. That approach is something which has long been lacking in this nation. It also provides a basis for a proper cost recovery approach to land transport in the country.

I am pleased to be able to say that that legislation also confirms our commitment to the development of our road and rail systems in a co-ordinated, complementary fashion, rather than a straight-out alternative fashion. It is not a matter of road or rail transport; it is a matter of road and rail transport, each form of transport carrying out the task to which it is economically, socially and technically best suited. In that way we will get the most efficient transport system. With the most efficient transport system we will be better able to exploit market opportunities abroad and we will be better able to exploit our manufacturing and economic opportunities and we will be able to provide more jobs at a faster rate in this nation.

We have made special provisions for local government in the Australian land transport program. As the honourable member properly mentioned in regard to the very effective role he foreshadowed for local government, we are ensuring that the level of Federal expenditure on roads for local government will be maintained in real terms. Next year's provision will maintain this year's expenditure in real terms. From there on, the indexation of the funds provided under the legislation will ensure that local government's interests are protected.

We have taken the view that local government has a narrower financial base. It has growing burdens placed upon it and is the least able of the three levels of government to expand that revenue base to carry out the tasks which it is called upon to perform. If we look at the legislation we see that next year we will be providing $258m for work on local council roads. For New South Wales that is an increase of 5 per cent, for Victoria an increase of more than 6 per cent, for Queensland an increase of almost 6 per cent, for Western Australia an increase of 5.6 per cent, for South Australia an increase of 6 per cent and for Tasmania an increase of 4 per cent. In total that $258m is a 60 per cent increase of Federal expenditure on local roads on the last full year's Budget of the Fraser Government.

I commend the honourable member for the work that he is doing and for the representations he makes on behalf of local government. I say again to the House that the Australian land transport program fulfils the major election promise of the Prime Minister to maintain the greatest road building and road construction program ever undertaken in this nation.