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Thursday, 11 September 1958


Mr COUTTS (Griffith) .- I want to refer to tax reimbursements to the States, and particularly to a matter that has been raised recently by the Premier of Queensland. It would appear that some dispute exists between this Government and the Queensland Government as to the population in. Queensland. This dispute has been going on for some time. The Premier states that the population of Queensland is 30,000 more than the Commonwealth Statistician asserts it to be. This Government, rightly so, is standing behind the Statistician. The matter is being investigated. The Premier states that if his claim is correct the Queensland Government will be entitled to an additional £200,000 reimbursement from the Commonwealth Government in each year. According to yesterday's Brisbane news papers the Premier has made, another claim and is encouraging the people of that State in the belief that his Government will receive another £200,000 this year. The Estimates make no provision for that amount of money to be paid to Queensland. I am disappointed that the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden), who is a Queenslander, is not in the chamber to-night. I am also sorry to see no Government supporter from Queensland present in the chamber while this most important matter is being discussed. However, the Opposition has its Queensland representatives here.

I am very concerned about the financial position in Queensland. The deficit of that State for the last financial year is higher than it has been for 25 years. The Australian Country party-Liberal party Government in Queensland has a very doubtful record. It produces Bradman-like deficits whenever it has an opportunity to govern, and it is running true to form at the present time. The Premier of Queensland is asking this Government to treat Queensland as a mendicant State. He finds that it is impossible to govern with the funds now made available by the Commonwealth. I admit that Queensland, as the second largest State of the Commonwealth, has problems. Queensland is unique in that since it became a State in 1859 it has endeavoured to carry out its development on a decentralized basis. That makes the cost of government and the cost of development greater than is the case in other States which confine their activities to certain sections of their States.

I hope that there will be some early announcement by the Government regarding this very important matter, because it is of some moment to the citizens of Queensland and to the Queensland Government. It will be a great blow to Queensland not to get this £200,000. But I fear that the members of the Queensland Government are merely being propagandists, and are feeding the citizens of that State on statements that are designed to encourage them to hope that the Commonwealth Government will make further grants to Queensland. I do not think that any additional grant will be made by this Government which the Premier claims he is entitled to because of some difference between his figures and those of the Commonwealth Statistician as to the population of that State. As a member of the Commonwealth

Parliament 1 feel that it would be a shocking state of affairs if the Statistician has underestimated the population of Queensland by 30,000 people. However, I hope that this dispute will be resolved very soon. If the Statistician believes that he is right, I hope that he will say so - and very quickly - and that this Government will say that the Queensland Government will not get the additional £200,000 that it is encouraging the people of Queensland to believe will come their way.

I want to refer now to the Australian Capital Territory, and I feel duty-bound to do so because the Parliament, and the Labour party, has honoured me by appointing me to the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Australian Capital Territory, an honour that I appreciate very much. I want to make some observations about the development of the capital, a development that I consider to be right and proper. The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Fairhall), who is not present-


Mr Cramer - The Minister is ill.


Mr COUTTS - I am very sorry to hear that the Minister is ill; and my remarks will now be all the more sincere. I think that the present Minister for the Interior deserves the commendation of the nation and of this Parliament for the way in which he is tackling the problem of the development of the capital city of the Commonwealth. Although I am a resident of Brisbane, I think that there is an obligation on this Parliament to ensure that the capita] city of the Commonwealth shall be developed to such an extent that every citizen of Australia will be justly proud of it. A big industry is developing here in Canberra, and we parliamentarians should see that it is catered for. I refer to the tourist industry. People from all parts of Australia are making a point of visiting Canberra. I know from conversations with many of them that they are somewhat disappointed with the development that has taken place. The Government has a responsibility to see that the development of Canberra is speeded up. In the short time that the present Minister has held the portfolio, his efforts to develop this city have by far eclipsed the efforts of his predecessor. On all sides we see all kinds of development being tackled and all kinds of buildings being erected - buildings that will be to the credit of the Minister and to the advantage of Canberra. There has been a departure from the original plan in the decision to erect, large blocks of flats, but that is just a modern development which shows that the Minister is abreast of modern trends.

On looking around Canberra, I feel that far too much land has been used for individual residential blocks, which average about 32 perches. In a capital city, with sewerage provided, ample park space, welldeveloped roads, and terrifically wide footpaths which are almost parks in themselves, there is no need to use so much land for single-unit dwellings. I think 32 perches of land is far too much. In my own home in the City of Brisbane, I have what I consider to be an ideal area - a 16-perch block with a 50-ft. frontage.


Mr Hulme - Ridiculous!


Mr COUTTS - As one who pushes a lawnmower, being unable to afford a power mower, I should say that the yard I have on the 16-perch block is quite large enough. I have no desire to engage illegally in the poultry industry and, of course, I therefore have no need for a larger yard. I feel that in future subdivisions in the city of Canberra the allotments for domestic purposes should be much smaller than they were when this city was first established. Of course, some honorable members might have a different opinion.


Mr Hulme - They certainly have.


Mr COUTTS - That is my opinion, and I have had a fair amount of experience, in fact a lot more than the honorable member for Petrie (Mr. Hulme), in local government.

The Minister and the Government are to be congratulated upon inviting a town planner from the United Kingdom to submit a report with recommendations upon the future development of the city of Canberra. That town planner, Sir William Holford, recommended a revolutionary departure from the Burley Griffin plan in connexion with Parliament House. Let me say, to the credit of the Minister that he did not shelve the report and leave it to lie from year to year. He has referred it to the Government, and the Government has decided to adopt Sir William Holford's recommendation. We know now that the Government has decided that the new Parliament House is to be erected on the site recommended by the town planner, not on Capital Hill, as was intended originally. I am in complete agreement with that town planner's recommendation, and I can only hope that many of us who are here to-day, myself included, will have the privilege of taking our places on Mr. Speaker's right when the new Parliament House is completed.







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