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Wednesday, 21 May 1980
Page: 2995

Mr Charles Jones (NEWCASTLE, VICTORIA) - I support the amendment moved by the honourable member for Shortland (Mr Morris). I seek leave of the House to incorporate that amendment in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The amendment read as follows-

That all words after 'That' be omitted with a view to substituting the following words: 'whilst not declining to give the Bill a second reading, the House is of the opinion that-

(1)   the Bill fails to provide adequate funds to the States and the Northern Territory for road construction and maintenance in 1 980-8 1 ;

(2)   the amalgamation of the former categories of urban local roads and rural local roads into a single category of local roads will lead to an inequitable distribution of road funds to units of local government;

(3)   the abolition of the minor traffic engineering and road safety category is a further abandonment by the Fraser Government of responsibility for road safety related matters, and will result in greater delay in the construction of much needed road traffic and road safety improvements;

(4)   the Government has again failed to utilise the opportunities for job creation that an expanded road construction and maintenance program offers, and

(5)   the Government has refused to provide sufficient road funds to the States and the Northern Territory for 1980-81 for the implementation of a responsible multi-modal plan for transport energy conservation '.

Mr Charles Jones (NEWCASTLE, VICTORIA) -I thank the House and the Minister for Transport (Mr Hunt). Mr Deputy Speaker, the veracity of the statements and the alleged facts contained in the speech of the honourable member for Macarthur (Mr Baume) are something akin to his actions and his participation in a company called Patrick Partners that went bust.

Mr Cadman - Mr Deputy Speaker,I take a point of order. I And that statement objectionable. On behalf of my colleague, I claim it is a reflection on this side of the House. There is no way in which it should be allowed.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drummond)Order!The comment has been objected to. It is not warranted in this type of debate and I ask the honourable member for Newcastle to withdraw it.

Mr Charles Jones (NEWCASTLE, VICTORIA) -Is it unparliamentary? Mr Deputy Speaker, this is a debate.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -The remark was not unparliamentary.

Mr Charles Jones (NEWCASTLE, VICTORIA) -In that case I do not withdraw it.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - It is an imputation against -

Mr Charles Jones (NEWCASTLE, VICTORIA) -If it is unparliamentary I will withdraw it, Mr Deputy Speaker. If it is not I will not withdraw it.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - If it is an imputation against a member, it is unparliamentary. I thank the honourable member for withdrawing the remark.

Mr Charles Jones (NEWCASTLE, VICTORIA) -I withdraw the part apropos Patrick Partners. As far as the veracity of the statement that the honourable member has made and the matters that he raised here today are concerned, they are not true. He knows they are not true. He has used them in a manner which is politically dishonest.

Mr Baume - I raise a point of order. The allegation that the matters are not true is acceptable. To say that I know they are not true is unacceptable. The remark is a reflection on me and I ask that it be withdrawn. It is an improper and untrue assertion.

Mr Charles Jones (NEWCASTLE, VICTORIA) -I will withdraw that part, Mr Deputy Speaker, because he is such a big log that he would not know whether they are right or wrong.

Mr Baume - Mr Deputy Speaker,I raise a point of order -

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -The honourable member for Newcastle has withdrawn the imputation. He has called the honourable member for Macarthur a log. Is that what the honourable member for Macarthur is now objecting to?

Mr Baume - There may be a Baume which in German may well be a tree, but I wish the honourable member could see the wood for the trees and not call me a log.

Mr Charles Jones (NEWCASTLE, VICTORIA) -The honourable member for Macarthur made reference to the amount of money that was allocated to rural local roads as against urban roads and the other categories that were involved under the 1974 road legislation. The honourable member would not know what is going on. Figures can be clearly produced which will show beyond question that the amount of money allocated for rural roads in the 1974 road legislation which was introduced by the Labor Government was increased. As far as rural arterial and rural urban roads are concerned, let us look at the facts. The vast majority of the money that was allocated to national highways had previously come under the category of rural arterial roads. That is why the honourable member for Macarthur is either dishonest, does not know, does not understand or did not read the legislation at that time. He should have been aware of the true position.

Mr Baume - I raise a point of order.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Before the honourable member for Macarthur raises his point of order, I would remind him that he was very provocative in his speech.

Mr Baume - I recognise that.

Mr Charles Jones (NEWCASTLE, VICTORIA) -The truth hurts.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Before he takes his point of order. I remind him of that fact. As he soweth, he shall also reap.

Mr Baume - Under Standing Order 303, I must say that I regard the words 'he was either dishonest' as offensive and I seek their withdrawal.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -The honourable member for Newcastle was making a qualification, that he did not say that the honourable member for Macarthur was dishonest. He was saying that there was an alternative to it.

Mr Charles Jones (NEWCASTLE, VICTORIA) -Mr Deputy Speaker,if I might get on with my speech. I listened to him in silence. He quoted misleading figures and I am answering him.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -The honourable member for Macarthur has been offended by the imputation of the honourable member for Newcastle.

Mr Charles Jones (NEWCASTLE, VICTORIA) -If the honourable member is offended- I know he has a terribly thick hide- I will withdraw the remark. The Bill provides for a grant to the States of $62 8m for roads under various categories. The whole situation, if one reads the Minister's second reading speech, is a further example of this Government's blundering through on a year-to-year basis. Until such time as governments of this country are prepared to plan, not for one year ahead, but for a lengthy period of at least three to five years the States will continue to find themselves in a position whereby they do not know more than a few months in advance what money is to be made available to them.

When the Labor Government was in office it worked on the basis of a five-year plan so that at no time was there a position whereby the States did not know three years in advance what they would get. In other words, the Government created a roll-over situation whereby money continued to flow and the States could continue to plan on the basis of what they would get in the next two, three or four years' time. This is something which this Government needs to do. It needs a Minister who knows and understands the problems of transport so that the States can at least plan ahead instead of operating on a yeartoyear basis, as we have now, and in the hope that they may get some sort of understanding at the next Premiers Conference.

The Roads Gants Bill is of no use unless we look at the overall question of transport. We cannot deal with roads just as roads. We have to look at the overall position of transport. What is the position as far as intrastate roads are concerned? What is the position concerning interstate roads, interstate railway systems, interstate shipping systems and urban public transport? I listened to the honourable member for Macarthur talk about the need for freeways in Sydney. All the freeways in Sydney can do is to create additional problems for the people who live there at present. They will continue to throw traffic into the central business district of the City of Sydney and the associate city of Parramatta and others which are to be developed in the future.

Unless the Federal Government works in close collaboration with the State governments on the basis of planning the needs of this country the Government will continue to blunder through by creating the problems of pollution in our major cities. Sydney is one of the three worst polluted cities in the world today. Probably it is topped only by Los Angeles and Tokyo. This is brought about by the excessive use of the motor car in Sydney. Freeways will not solve the problem. The greater use of urban public transport is one of the things that will have to be introduced. This Government, by reason of the position which it holds as far as money is concerned, is in a situation whereby in close consultation with State governments it should be able to provide a program over four or five years to upgrade the general standard of the urban public transport systems of the cities of this country.

It was not until the Australian Labor Party came into office in 1972 that an upgrading of urban public transport was introduced with a $500m program over five years which was aimed at improving urban public transport. It was aimed at getting away from the necessity for freeways which are all right so long as they do not involve one 's own city. Freeways are great so long as they do not demolish one 's home to provide the space to build them or are not in front of one's home. They are all right if they are in the other bloke's front yard, but it is a hell of a thing if it is in one's own front yard. I am not a great supporter of freeways. There is a need to look at the alternative. One alternative is the use of urban public transport. The crowding of vehicles in the CBDs of Sydney and Melbourne can never be catered for. It is absolutely and totally impossible to cater for the amount of traffic that wants to use the CBDs of those cities. People come into this place and state that they hope the New South Wales Government does not sell the land that it has acquired- not so much the Labor Government, but the previous governments- to build freeways. I hope the land is returned to the use for which it was originally intended, namely, for providing accommodation for people. The building of freeways is not the solution.

As far as interstate and intrastate traffic is concerned, there is a need for an oversighting of the requirements by a Federal government, by a Federal department planning the requirements of this country, instead of getting to the situation in South Australia some years ago when the South Australian Government announced that it would not provide any money for the Eyre Highway because South Australians do not use it. The Government stated: 'Let the eastern States provide the money for it'. What a ridiculous and stupid situation that was. These are the examples which crop up from time to time and which show the need for the intervention of a Federal department of transport. The same thing can be said as far as other interstate roads are concerned, where State governments plan and do things to develop their State and to hell with Australia as a country. Therefore, in the overall picture we need a Federal parliament rather than a Federal government to oversight these plans.

Let us examine the situation in the United States of America. It was not until such time as a federal road authority was set up to plan the road structure of that country that the requirements of interstate traffic were met. This did not apply so much to intrastate traffic, the responsibility for which remained with the States. I would be very disappointed to see this Parliament revert to the situation which applied some years ago when the Treasurer would introduce a Bill and say: 'Here is $600m. An amount of $200m will be allocated for this, $200m will be allocated for that, and $200m will be allocated for something else'. In those days we would pass the Bill without question and then go home. That is not good enough. Federal intervention and Federal supervision are required.

The speech made by the Minister for Transport (Mr Hunt) is a typical misleading speech. He said that the Government had increased the allocation for roads by 1 1 per cent. What the Minister did not tell the House was that an increase of 1 1 per cent only keeps pace with inflation and that in reality there is no real increase. If one examines the amount that has been allocated over the years for roads one will find that this Government is badly dragging the chain. I have a table that has been prepared by the Commonwealth Library Statistical Service setting out grants to the States for roads. It shows current prices and the 1971-72 prices. I seek leave to incorporate that table in Hansard.

Leave granted. The table read as follows-


Mr Charles Jones (NEWCASTLE, VICTORIA) -I thank the House. This table clearly shows that the amount of money allocated in 1979-80 was $565m. In terms of 1971-72 prices the figure was, in reality, $259m. An amount of $628m has been allocated for roads this year. I draw the attention of honourable members to the fact that at present inflation is running at 1 1 per cent. This means that the additional 11 per cent that has been allocated this year by the Government in reality will only keep pace with the allocation of previous years. In 1971-72 the amount allocated to the States was $238,583,000. The amount allocated in 1979-80, in 1971-72 prices, was $259m. In 1978-79 the amount allocated, in 1 97 1 -72 prices, was $244m and in 1 977-78 it was $244m. Since 1975-76, the year of the last

Budget of the Labor Government, when $259m, in 1971-72 prices, was allocated, the amount of money allocated to the States for roads by this Government has declined. The figure of $259m-that is the 1971-72 price-which was allocated last year was in reality only $250m when one takes into consideration the fact that $19m was allocated to the Northern Territory and that in previous years allocations to the Northern Territory had not been included in the total amount. I draw those matters to the attention of honourable members. I have another table which shows excise duty on petroleum products and the crude oil production levy. I seek leave to incorporate that table in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The table read as follows-



Mr Charles Jones (NEWCASTLE, VICTORIA) -I thank the House. This table shows the rip-off that is taking place. It shows the amount of money that the Government is taking off the motorist. The estimated excise duty on petroleum products in 1980-81 is $ 1,005m. Revenue from the crude oil production levy is estimated at $3,200m. They are the amounts that it is estimated will be collected this year in revenue from fuel. Out of a total of $4,205m this Government will give a lousy $628m to the States for roads. It is something for which this Government has to answer. The Minister tried to confuse and mislead the public by saying that expenditure on roads would increase by 1 1 per cent. All that the Government is doing is maintaining the purchasing power of money as against last year. The record of this Government in previous years is a sorry one. A letter has been sent to me by the National Roads and Motorists Association- no doubt other members have received a copy as well- strongly condemning the amount that this Government has allocated for roads. I do not have time to read the letter. The former Director of the Bureau of Transport Economics, and later a Deputy Secretary to the Department of Transport, Dr Taplin- now Professor Taplin- recently made a speech concerning the benefits of increased allocations for roads. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a table concerning that matter.

Leave granted.


Source: Calculated from BTE An Assessment of the Australian Road System: 1979 Part 1, Table 7.4.

The first figure in Table 1 means that there would be about 2,000 fewer accidents annually. The BTE calculations imply that this reduction in accidents would include a saving of about 60 lives annually and almost 500 cases of injury. I have deduced from the sources given by the BTE that' they were valuing a life at $103,000 in 1976-77 dollars, equivalent to about $135,000 in today's prices. Personally, I think the lengths society goes to in other fields to save life indicates a much higher community valuation of an individual life-perhaps $100,000 more in today's values. If this is so then the discounted value of the reduced accidents is increased by almost 50 per cent from $ 1 37m to $203m.

The discounted value of $607m for the reduction in vehicle operating costs would result mainly from more economical use of fuel and tires and lessened damage to vehicles. These benefits would be achieved through improved road surfaces, gradients and curves, as well as reduced congestion.

Mr Charles Jones (NEWCASTLE, VICTORIA) -I thank the House. I do not have time to deal with all the facts of the matter, but they are contained in that table. The table clearly sets out the improvements and the savings that can be achieved by an increase in the financial allocation for roads. It shows that a 7.7 reduction in the number of accidents would occur and that a 34 per cent reduction would occur in vehicle operating costs. It shows also that there would be a saving of 10.5 per cent in private travel time and a saving of 28.7 per cent in commercial travel time. This Government talks about saving money. These are some of the things that can be done to save money.

I want to deal with the decision of this Government to abandon the Minor Traffic Engineering and Road Safety Improvements program. I think we can give the Minister a new name. We can call him the demolishes When he was Minister for Health he demolished Medibank by gradually introducing various new schemes which finished at zero. Now he is in the position of getting rid of the MITERS program. The MITERS program was introduced by me as Minister for Transport in the Labor Government. Anyone who is interested in transport or road safety knows that the MITERS program was one of the best programs introduced in this country to assist in overcoming the problems of road safety.

Mr Barry Jones (LALOR, VICTORIA) - Which Minister introduced that?

Mr Charles Jones (NEWCASTLE, VICTORIA) -I told the House who the Minister was; it was Charles Keith Jones, the honourable member for Newcastle. That legislation was introduced as a result of a report prepared under the direction of a Liberal Minister for Transport. An expert group on road safety was set up. It comprised some of the most knowledgeable transport men in Australia. It made three major recommendations. One of those recommendations stated:

The Commonwealth Government should involve itself more directly in road safety and in other ways promote a more vigorous, co-ordinated and multi-disciplinary approach.

It also dealt with the setting up of the Road Safety and Standards Authority. One of the first things that the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) did when coming to office was to get rid of that Authority. Now this Minister, this demolisher, is getting rid of the MITERS program. This program was set up as a result of an inquiry carried out by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Road Safety, and as a result of decisions by State governments and as a result of investigations carried out by departmental officers. Money has been allocated each year for the provision of road safety measures, for the provision of improvements to dangerous roads and for the provision of traffic signs. All of these things are essential if the lives of people are to be saved. Is this Government going to continue to have no regard for the fact that in 1979 alone, 3,504 people were killed in accidents on roads in Australia? In each of the previous 10 years a similar number of people were killed in accidents on the roads. If the Government wants to continue to allow people to be killed on the roads it only has to get rid of programs like MITERS.


Order! The honourable member's time has expired.

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