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Tuesday, 9 May 1972
Page: 2256

Mr ACTING SPEAKER -Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The documents read as follows):




Mr REYNOLDS - I thank the House. One of the effects of this terrible debt burden on the railways which is so unrelieved by lack of Commonwealth assistance is that morale is flagging. It is not only the passengers, who are upset. These people who are employed by the railways are also affected. The effect on their morale is quite damaging. The fact is that they never can get in front. They have this tremendous burden of interest debt hanging over their heads, this capital debt. There, is a lack of incentive towards efficiency. Often, particularly in the past, salaries in railway services have been poor. The railways have not been able to attract men as well qualified as might have been the case with better salaries offering. There have been inadequate superannuation schemes to retain employees. There has been a high labour turnover. The railway system has always been regarded as the Cinderella of transport services in Australia and, by default, people have left the railways. They have left the passenger services and even in the goods traffic they are leaving. The figures have been improving but not at the rate which one would expect in relation to the increase in population. As a result people have been turning more and more to motor transport and, as one motoring writer said just recently:

For the community, the cost of one vehicle carrying one passenger to an across-town destination is hideously high in terms of road space occupied and congestion created. The social cost of atmospheric contamination cannot be measured but it has been estimated that private motor vehicles are responsible for 40 per cent of air pollution over Australian cities.

I will mention some of the other costs incurred as a result of forcing people to go on to our roadways rather than to travel on our railway systems. There is tremendous cost involved in building highways and expressways in inner city areas. As far back as 1969 every mile of expressway in our inner metropolitan areas was estimated to cost SI Om. That was nearly 3 years ago, so it could possibly be SI 2m or even $13m a mile now, having regard to the cost of resumption of land and construction costs. On top of this there is all the private investment in production and .maintenance of motor vehicles, the damage to. vehicles, traffic congestion, paying salaries to people who are doing nothing better than sitting in traffic jams looking at traffic lights turning different colours. There is the adverse effect on our environment to which I have referred - the fumes, the noise, the accidents and the pace of living. All these things have an environmental effect.

Mr Foster - The quality of life.

Mr REYNOLDS - It is generally termed the quality of life, quite correctly, and this is one of the aspects of it. I wonder when we will get down to making an estimate of. the costs of these different forms of transport. Just a couple of years ago we established the Commonwealth Bureau of Transport Economics. I wonder what it has done about this old problem of estimating whether it is economically desirable - disregarding the social effects - to pour so much money into the construction of urban roads rather than doing something more to update our railway systems. The strong suggestion from overseas currently is that it is bad economic policy. In some of the bigger cities - Boston in the United States of America is one classical example that comes to mind-plans to build great urban expressways have been cancelled and the money has been diverted to other forms of transport. It is high time that we made an evaluation of our- investment in the various forms of transport.

I conclude my remarks by saying that the Australian Labor Party has .in its policy the establishment of an interstate commission to co-ordinate all types of interstate transport- rail, road, air and water. We intend to provide Commonwealth funds tq the States with a view to co-ordinating all forms of transport and upgrading public transport. A Labor government would operate any railways, ports, air routes, shipping services or pipelines .referred to the Commonwealth by any State or. States. Therefore, if Victoria and New South Wales want to hand over their railways, as they say they do, they will find after the next Federal elections that there will be a government in Canberra which will be only too happy to accept the responsibility of coordinating railway development with every other form of transport.

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