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Tuesday, 26 November 1985
Page: 2234

Senator REID(3.18) —I move:

That the Senate take note of the paper.

In the time available to me, it is not possible to do justice to this report, so I shall merely refer to some of the matters that are highlighted. In the introduction to the report there are some matters which need to be reviewed. The Department of Territories refers to the fact that it has been under considerable pressure throughout the year as a result of continuing growth in demand for services. There has been considerable growth in Canberra over the period under discussion-1984-85. One of the matters highlighted is the strain on parking, and on public transport, which has resulted from that. The parking crisis which has developed in Civic and in the suburban areas adjacent to Civic is a matter about which I am getting a considerable number of representations. The suburb of Reid has been declared a heritage suburb, and great effort has been made to preserve Reid.

Senator Peter Baume —A good name for a suburb.

Senator REID —It is a most elegant name for the suburb. But that suburb is now grossly disfigured by the parking that takes place there daily by people who used to park nearer to the centre of Canberra. There has been some effort to extend the pay parking so that people are able more easily to reach shops, as otherwise it has become almost impossible for people to drive into Civic and to park. But there is a long recognised parking crisis. I hope that the Government will soon let us know exactly what the plans are for the future. I do not think many people would doubt that there is time for paid parking structures to be developed. There are places where they could be developed. One of the reasons why there may be some reluctance by the private sector to carry out this development is that it would want an assurance that, if private money were put into parking, there would not be unfair competition from free parking provided elsewhere. But that is a matter that needs to be addressed.

The Department was also subjected to major inquiries and policy reviews during the year and they are referred to in the report as well. Additional legislation has placed stress upon the Department and it has had considerable absenteeism through repetitive strain injury. Serious industrial disputes have affected many sections of the Department but they are really too numerous to go through in detail today. Perhaps the dispute that has caused considerable concern to the Department and the community is that relating to fire services. There has been a lack of such services as a result of industrial action during this period. Quite recently we have again had problems with fire services and I suspect that even today they continue. It is a matter which requires attention and needs to be addressed, especially with the bushfire season coming up. Of course, everybody will recall the widespread bushfires which were suffered in the last financial year and which are detailed in this report.

The report deals with the Department's activities in moving towards self-government. Ironically, it refers to the fact that self-government for the Australian Capital Territory was part of the Government's electoral platform. It certainly was. In May 1982, prior to the last House of Assembly election, the then Leader of the Australian Labor Party made it very plain that, within 12 months of a Federal Labor government being elected, there would be self-government in the Australian Capital Territory. As recently as yesterday it was again deferred. Apparently a couple of Ministers are not keen on the idea. The uncertainty for the community at large, and in particular for the Department of Territories, is considerable. It is extremely difficult for that Department to do its job while it just does not know what the future holds.

The other problem the report refers to is the reduction and standard of services in some areas. It is all very well to increase capital construction and development but if the municipal services are not maintained the end cost to the community will be enormous. I hope those costs do not arrive immediately upon the heels of self-government because that will be an unfair burden on this community.

Question resolved in the affirmative.