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Thursday, 25 May 1972
Page: 3067

Mr WALLIS (GREY, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I direct my question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. I refer to the answer given to the honourable member for the Northern Territory by Hie Minister yesterday following a question about upgrading the Stuart Highway from Port Augusta to Alice Springs, in which the Minister stated that he would bring the honourable member's concern to the attention of the Minister for Roads in South Australia. Is the Minister aware that the South Australian State Government is stretching its resources to the utmost in carrying out 3 major roadwork projects in the sparsely populated areas of western and northern South Australia, namely the Flinders Highway, the Eyre Highway and the Stuart Highway? Does he not consider that the efforts of the South Australian Government to seal these roads is worthy of more support from the Federal Government instead of repeating his statements on the supposedly generous allocation to South Australia under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act, especially when it is noted that up to-

Mr SPEAKER - Order! The honourable member now is making a comment. Yesterday I asked for questions to be shorter and I request the honourable member to ask his question.

Mr WALLIS - In view of the amount given to other States for road construction, will the the Minister consider giving greater assistance to the South Australian Government for necessary roadworks?

Mr NIXON (GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA) (Minister for Shipping and Transport) - The first point I make is that the Commonwealth does not provide all the finance that is available to the States for their road construction programmes. In fact, the Commonwealth provides approximately one-third of South Australia's requirements. I think it is fair to say that all the States received acclaimed the Commonwealth aid roads programme when it was announced about 2 years ago. They were thoroughly delighted with the increase of finance from about $750m to $ 1,200m for the 5-year programme. South Australia as well as the other States enjoyed the increase. For the 5-year programme, South Australia will receive from the Commonwealth $120m. As I pointed out yesterday, just under $14m of this money is available for rural arterial roads - the very roads about which the honourable member for the Northern Territory spoke yesterday. As well, South Australia will receive a supplementary grant of $9m which, apart from Western Australia, which receives a supplementary grant of $41m and Tasmania which, I think, receives a grant of $2£m, the eastern States do not share. So, in point of fact, the Commonwealth has been very generous to South Australia in the money allocated to that State under the Commonwealth aid roads programme. In regard to the other part of the honourable member's question, the South Australian Government sets its own priorities on the way that money should be spent. For my part, I would like to see that Government do more and meet more of its responsibilities in regard to both the Eyre Highway and the road from Port Augusta to Alice Springs. The Commonwealth has no jurisdiction in the matter. It is a matter for the South Australian Government and it must live up to its responsibilities and do the job properly.

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