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Wednesday, 21 May 1980
Page: 2992

Mr BAUME (Macarthur) -This afternoon we have heard the usual series of complaints from the honourable member for Shortland (Mr Morris). He has had nothing new or original to say. As usual he has been particularly selective in his choice of facts to present to this House. I was also interested to hear the terms of his amendment in which he complains that the system now being introduced by this Government in this Roads Grants Bill will lead to inequitable allocations of roads moneys to local government. I presume by that that he means that the State governments are not to be trusted to distribute appropriately Federal money to local government. He may well, of course, have grounds to take a serious view of that in, say, New South Wales where it is true that there have been inequitable distributions. But under our policy we take the view very clearly that it is up to the State governments to distribute Federal money in a way that is considered to be appropriate so that there is not a duplication of the bureaucracy. Duplication of bureaucracies is an essential part of basic Labor philosophy. The Labor Party's one solution for solving the unemployment problem is to produce more public servants and to duplicate jobs in the Federal and State areas.

Let me indicate to honourable members the manner in which it is possible for some local government areas to be unfairly treated even under the past situation. Let us face it; in the past the Government of New South Wales has distributed money between local government councils. I have a letter from the Council of the Municipality of Camden. The letter reads:

Dear Mr Baume,

I refer to your earlier advice concerning the Council's 1978-79 allocation of $36,000 under the above Federally financed roads scheme, in which you pointed out that it appeared from information available as to the grants approved to other local government areas by the State government, that Camden Council was not receiving its correct allocation.

Following your advice, an investigation was made into this matter and an error was discovered. The error has now been rectified and Council expects to receive a substantially increased grant in 1979-80.

Council wishes to thank you sincerely for your interest in the matter, and for drawing attention to an apparent anomaly, which subsequently proved to be the case.

The fact is that this legislation will not in any way increase the capacity of a State government to misallocate Federal funds, particularly in view of the assurances that have been given by the State governments that they will maintain roughly the same proportions of funds in various road categories. That is simply a side issue to the basic issue. I do not mind if the honourable member for Shortland does not trust the New South Wales Government to do the job properly because, frankly, I do not trust it either. But I am glad to see that the honourable member for Shortland agrees with me.

Let me get to a matter of far deeper significance and that is the selectivity of the honourable member for Shortland in choosing to complain to this House that the Federal Government is not doing the right thing by roads in the States. My interest, of course, is in roads in rural areas. I seek leave of the House to have incorporated in Hansard a table which dramatises this situation. I showed it to the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Les Johnson) while the honourable member for Shortland was speaking.

Leave granted.

The table read as follows-



Source: Minister for Transport, Hansard pages 718 to 726, 5 March 1980.

Mr BAUME -I thank the House. This table shows quite clearly the dramatic increase in the amount of money that has been made available in rural areas for roads by the present Government, particularly in those rural categories which were cut by the Labor Government. These figures are in constant terms- 1971-72 moneyand are calculated after accounting for inflation: In 1974-75 the amount allocated to rural local roads was cut from $ 1 1.44m to $9.82m. The allocation has since been increased under this Government to $ 13.27m. That represents an increase of 16 per cent, the allocation having been but by the Labor Government. That is an increase of 16 per cent after it had been cut by the Labor Party. We do not hear about matters of that sort when the honourable member for Shortland complains about the Federal Government's performance in relation to roads. We do not hear that from those very few Labor members with rural involvement following the decimation of their numbers at the polls.

The Federal Government has done the right thing by road users in the country. Since 1974- 75, there has been a 14 per cent real increase in spending on rural arterial roads and rural local roads- in other words, since the time when the Labor Government left office. Since 1975- 76, the figure has been a bit higher than 14 per cent. In the category of rural local and rural arterial roads this Government has helped the man on the land whereas the contribution of the previous Government was to cut severely rural local road funding. I hope that local councils and users of rural local roads around this nation recognise the difference between a party that hates the man on the land and which does what it can to destroy the transport systems of the country and what this Government has done.

Mr Innes - Why don't you tell the truth?

Mr BAUME - The honourable member for Melbourne asks: 'Why don't you tell the truth?'

He has the statistics before him. The overall statistics were quoted in the speech of the honourable member for Shortland. Although the honourable member for Shortland had these specific statistics, he did not have the courage to refer to them during his speech. He was very selective which is typical of him.

Mr Innes - You could not lie straight in bed.

Mr BAUME - The interjection is typical of the attitude of the Labor Party to rural Australia.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drummond)Order!I suggest that the honourable member for Macarthur address his remarks through the Chair. He should not take any notice of interjections.

Mr BAUME -Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. I regret that the ridiculous nature of the interjections prompted me to respond. May I -

Mr Innes - Mr Deputy Speaker,I take a point of order. In his remarks, the honourable member said that the Australian Labor Party hated the people on the land. That remark is objectionable and I ask that it be withdrawn.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! I do not think that the honourable member for Macarthur went to those lengths in his remarks.

Mr Innes - That is exactly what he said.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -If that upset the honourable member for Melbourne, I ask the honourable member for Macarthur to withdraw.

Mr BAUME -Mr Deputy Speaker,I withdraw completely. I am overjoyed to hear that the suggestion upsets the honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Innes). I would have thought that these statistics dramatised that the party that sits opposite has withdrawn money from rural local roads. If it is not for the reason that it hates the country, there may be another reason. I do not know what that reason is but, whatever the reason, the Labor Party has withdrawn money from rural local roads. These statistics dramatise that fact in real terms after we have accounted for inflation.

I will deal now with another area basically involved in the rural road system. I refer to the Federal national highways and national roads. The bulk of the national roads expenditure is in the rural areas and provides links between the major cities of Australia through rural electorates and, particularly, through the electorate of Macarthur. I have been overjoyed to see the $75m worth of work on the Hume Highway replacement, since I became the member for Macarthur. That $75m has been spent entirely in the Macarthur electorate. This does not take into account other enormous amounts of money being spent on replacing the Hume Highway with a major new freeway system in other electorates. I am overjoyed to hear also, that the New South Wales Minister for Highways, Mr Jensen, at the recent opening of the Maldon Bridge- attended by the Federal Minister for Transport (Mr Hunt)- agreed that the last section of the major link between Mittagong and Sydney would be opened before Christmas this year. That is a remarkable achievement.

I congratulate the Minister for Transport and his Department on their enthusiasm and support for this major road system. I thank the Minister also for his attendance in my electorate to cast his eye over the progress of that major system and for his attendance at the opening of the Maldon Bridge. That was part of the National Commerce Roads Program which is now the developmental program. An amount of $ 10m was spent in my electorate on this program. When Labor Party spokesmen get up to speak we do not hear about all these projects. All we hear is the knock, knock, knock and the drip, drip, drip.

Let us examine the facts. When we look at the Federal national highways and roads system which was introduced by the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones)- I congratulate him for introducing it- we see that this Government made it operative. In 1974-75, under the Labor Government, $35. 6m- in current money terms- was spent. Last year this Government spent $8 1.1 5m and, since then, the figure has been increased. After accounting for inflation that amount is not insignificant in real terms. Since 1974-75 in constant 1971-72 dollars- those are the ones to which the honourable member for Shortland referred- it has gone up from $24. 14m to $36.3 lm; that is an increase of 50 per cent about which the Labor Party refuses to speak and is too petty minded to admit. When the Labor Party discusses the whole question of roads, it pretends that these dramatic achievements have not taken place.

Overall, when we add the Federal funding for national roads, national highways and rural roads, we find that compared with 1974-75- the Labor Party loves to go back and to mention the wonderful things that it was doing then- there has been a 34 per cent real increase in the amount of Federal money allocated to these vital rural and national roads and highways since this Government came to office. If that is not a recognition of where the real road need is, I ask: For heaven's sake, what is it? The Labor Party does not know what it is because it does not recognise that that need exists. Its total contribution is to whinge and bellyache about what has happened to urban arterial roads in New South Wales where the State Labor Government has cancelled the inner city freeways project and is trying now to blame the Federal Government for having cut its arterial road programs. Good heaven's above! The State of New South Wales has multi-millions of dollars of land on the routes of these freeways bought with Federal road assistance. If the State Labor Government wants to spend a lot more money on roads, why does it not sell some of that land? I hope it does not and that those freeways go ahead. They are needed.

At the moment it seems as if the Labor Party's attack on this Government on the basis of its road programs, is a totally misleading and miserable effort which is designed to mislead those people in the country areas. I am overjoyed that the Minister has announced recently a 17 per cent increase in Federal funding for national highways and development roads in New South Wales this year in addition to the funding that I have already mentioned. In other words, it is not simply the increase of 50 per cent that I outlined: it is much more than that. This year it must be something like a 6 per cent or 7 per cent real increase after accounting for inflation. This increase from $81m to $95m in New South Wales certainly will provide funding for further work on the replacement of the Hume Highway through the southern highlands. It should provide also plenty of opportunity for the building of development roads linking the coal mines in my electorate with the coast. Certainly I hope that those projects go ahead. I hope that we get the co-operation of the State Labor Government in New South Wales in these areas. (

In conclusion I must say that I was very glad to ' see the spirit of co-operation which was evident between the Minister for Highways in New South Wales, Mr Jensen, and the Federal Minister for Transport, Mr Hunt, at the opening of the Maldon Bridge in my electorate. I wish that that kind of good spirit, that kind of friendly relationship, that kind of recognition of the joint role of the Federal and State governments, and that kind of recognition which is evident certainly in the Labor State Minister, were evident in this House from the people who sit opposite who do nothing more than whinge.

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