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Thursday, 20 October 1949

Mr MCDONALD (Corangamite) . - Clause 4 of the bill proposes to leave out the proviso to paragraph (c) of sub-section (5.) of the principal act and to insert in its stead the following proviso : -

Provided that a statement of the proposed expenditure by the State for the remainder of the year which commenced on the first day of July, One thousand nine hundred and fortynine, on road construction and maintenance out of any amount payable to the State under paragraph (c) of sub-section (4.) of this section shall be submitted by the State to the Minister prior to the thirty-first day of October, One thousand nine hundred and fortynine.

It is unfair for the Minister (Mr. Ward) to say that the States neglected to expend the grants that had been allotted to them. One of the reasons why they could not expend the money was because the allocations were made too late to enable the money to be expended in the financial year. To-day is the 20th October. By the 31st October the complete schedules of works must be in the hands of the Minister. It will be quite impossible for the States to prepare schedulas of works within that period. The Minister has said that he is anxious to assist the States, the municipalities and local governing bodies in the implementation of their road programmes. If that be so, I suggest that he should have recommended a very much earlier allocation of money and should also have given the State governments, the municipalities and the local governing bodies a much longer period in which to prepare their schedules of works. Surely the honorable gentleman appreciates the fact that the preparation of schedules of works estimated to cost £1,000,000 must take some time. The honorable gentleman has said' that the Government of Victoria had failed to expend by some hundreds of thousands of pounds the money allocated to it. That Government expended a much greater proportion of the money than did the governments of most other States. The Victorian Government expended between 70 and 80 per cent, of its allocation, whereas the governments of some ef the States expended only 50 per cent, of their allocations. The Minister has also said that the whole of the revenue which is derived from motor registrations and licence-fees is not made available by the States for roads works. I do not know what the position is in the other States, but in Victoria I know that the whole of the revenue derived from those sources is credited to a fund which is controlled by the Country Roads Board and is utilized for the construction and maintenance of country roads. I am pleased that the Minister has indicated that he -will endeavour to bring about the greatest possible co-operation between the Commonwealth, the States and the local governing authorities in this matter, and that he will do his best to ensure that ample money shall be made available for road construction.

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