Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Monday, 4 May 1987
Page: 2559

Mr CUNNINGHAM(10.50) —I rise again to follow the honourable member for Gippsland (Mr McGauran) who, during two adjournment debates in a row, has put in a very poor performance for a protege of the right honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair), someone who is seen as the disgraced leader of the present National Party whose riding orders are now coming from Queensland. We have also noticed that whilst the right honourable member for New England has now taken over as spokesperson-I would not say the shadow position-for the National Party on trade, the honourable member for Gippsland has been made his deputy. No doubt somewhere down the line the Party sees possibilities for the honourable member for Gippsland, but he will want to improve a lot on his last couple of performances.

We have heard tonight a couple of strange speeches in relation to road funding. The honourable member for Wannon (Mr Hawker) made allegations that this Government was responsible for cuts in national road funding. Let me give him the actual facts-instead of quoting from letters from local government-on funding for the different road categories. In 1981-82, the last full year of the Fraser Government, $302.7m was spent on grants for national roads. In this last year, 1986-87, this Government has spent $564m, an increase of 86.3 per cent.

Mr Downer —Your figures are way out.

Madam SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for Mayo now occupies a place on the front bench. He should not interject from a seat on the back bench which is not his own. I do not think it shows great courtesy to the House.

Mr CUNNINGHAM —I refer to the arterial road program. When the previous Government was thrown out of office it had spent $220.7m. Last year we spent $422.3m, an increase of 91.3 per cent. That is hardly a cut in funding. With regard to local roads, $161.6m was spent in the last year of the previous Government. In the last year we returned money to the taxpayers-I would not say the Government spent it; the taxpayers' money was returned to them-to the tune of $258.7m, a 60.1 per cent increase. The total figures are $685m for 1981-82 and $1,245m, as stated by the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Brumby), for 1986-87. That represents an 81.8 per cent increase, which is not a bad effort. Yet the honourable member for Wannon, who has taken over the electorate of the former Prime Minister, tried to tell us that funds have been cut.

The other issue that I wish to cover very quickly tonight in the last couple of minutes remaining to me is petrol prices. That is causing a lot of concern in country areas. I am not afraid to stand up in this House and say that we as a government will certainly have to do something about it. We have a system in Australia in which the wholesale price is set by the authorities established to look after that matter. Yet in my electorate in the last week we have seen a performance by the petrol companies and the retailers which has really astounded me. I refer to the span of prices in just one electorate. I think we will certainly have to do something about the discounting by the petrol companies in the wholesale area. Some people are getting cheap petrol and others are missing out, even in the country.

I would like to bring to the attention of the House the disparity in those prices. In the La-trobe Valley area of my electorate, these are the prices that are being charged today: Traralgon 58.9c; Morwell 59.9c; Moe 59.9c; Trafalgar 56.6c; and Warragul 59.9c. I turn to places a little closer to Melbourne. The price charged in Garfield is 47.8c; Officer, 48.3c; and Nar Nar Goon, my old home town, 48.3c. So there is an 11c difference in price in one country electorate. I raise this matter tonight to bring to the Government's attention the fact that we will have to look seriously at how these figures are being set. An 11c discount is being given to one section of one electorate, which is not being fed through to other sectors.

Madam SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member's time has expired.