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Wednesday, 12 April 1972
Page: 1547

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Hallett (CANNING, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows):


Compiled at request by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library Legislative Research Service from information contained in 'Quarterly Summary of Overseas Trade Statistics to 30 June 1971' and Statistics of Western Australia, Summary from 1829 to 1969' issued by the Deputy Commonwealth Statistician, Perth.

Mr WEBB - I instance that this table shows that the excess of exports in 1965-66 was up to Si 37.7m whereas in 1970-71 it had increased to S586m. This export surplus, of course, enables Western Australia to buy from the eastern States much more than it sells.

Turning to another matter very briefly, I draw attention to the fact that after a long delay the Government has agreed to find $2.5m to enable the State Shipping Service to continue its run to Darwin. If this had not been provided the State would have had no alternative but to discontinue this service from Wyndham to Darwin. This is a valuable addition to assist the State Shipping Service but it will not provide adequate financial assistance. Western Australia had asked for a subsidy of $475,000 per annum to help offset the Darwin loss which amounts to $715,000 annually. The State ships operated at a loss of $4.5m last year. It must be remembered that the State Shipping Service is inseparable from the big problem of northern development. It should be the subject of a special annual Commonwealth grant which takes into account its varying costs and circumstances. There is no other service in Australia with which its costs can be compared. The service was not established to make a profit. Private enterprise would not be interested in providing such a service because there is not a profit in it, but it is an essential service for the north of Western Australia and also for the port of Darwin in the Northern Territory. Throughout its 57 years of existence the State Shipping Service has always held that its main job is to make life better for the people of the north. Its freights and fares have been kept comparatively low as a result. It carries about 3 times as much cargo northwards as it carries southwards and this accounts for a considerable portion of its losses. To charge fully economic freights would mean an unacceptable increase in northern living costs which would affect the rate of progress in the north.

Dealing with the problems of Commonwealth and State financial relations as a whole and looking ahead we can see that the economy will need more public expenditure by the States if the problem of a rapidly growing population is to be met and if the development of our resources is ti be adequate and vigorous. It is essential that the Commonwealth Government, the State governments and their local authorities should co-operate in framing a constructive plan for a much higher rate of economic and social development. The Commonwealth should be moving towards a national concept in which specific target rates will be set for public investment to meet the needs of the State.

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