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Thursday, 2 November 1967

Mr HAROLDHOLT (Higgins- Prime

Minister) - by leave - I am pleased to announce to honourable members in relation to the future programme of beef road development in the north that the Premiers of Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia have accepted a Commonwealth offer to provide, over the 7 year period from 1st July 1967, non-repayable grants totalling $50m for the further development of beef roads in northern Australia. Of the total amount, $39. 5m will be made available to the State of Queensland, $9. 5m to the State of Western Australia and $lm to the State of South Australia.

The programme to be undertaken in Queensland will provide for the construction of selected roads in the Channel Country and the Gilbert, Burdekin, Fitzroy, Mitchell, Cape York and Gulf regions. In Western Australia the programme will cover selected road works in the Kimberley region and in South Australia permanent work on the Birdsville Track. The overall programme in each State will be capable of some variation if this is desirable. Each State will be the constructing authority for its road and will be solely responsible for necessary maintenance.

Honourable members will recall that the Commonwealth in collaboration with the appropriate State governments, has been continuously associatd with beef road development in the north since 1961. The Commonwealth has spent$10.4m since 1961 on its own initial beef roads programme in the Northern Territory, linked with the developments in the States, and has begun work on a further programme estimated to cost $14.3m. As well, the Commonwealth has provided by way of grants and loans to the States, $28. 9m, in a programme which has triggered off an expansion of private investment in the beef industry. This in turn will result in greater beef production, in increased prosperity in the north and in greater export earnings for Australia as a whole. The further programme that I now announce is evidence of the Commonwealth's desire to foster the further development of the beef industry and the north generally. I am confident that the next 7 years will see tremendous benefits from this programme, not only to the north, but to the nation as a whole.

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