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Wednesday, 21 May 1980
Page: 3009

Mr MORRIS (Shortland) - I wish to say something about being responsible. Is the Government responsible in keeping half a million Australians out of work? Is it being responsible by condoning the death of 3,500 Australians a year on decrepit roads? Is it being responsible in abolishing the Road Safety and Standards Authority? Is it being responsible in abolishing the Minor Traffic Engineering and Road Safety Improvements Program which has achieved the greatest return in human terms in road safety and on a benefit cost basis of any roads program? Is the Government being responsible in those actions? That is what Government members have been telling us for the last hour or so. Of course it is not being responsible.

What they see as being responsible is spending $40m on two VIP Boeing 707 aircraft for overseas trips, $50m on the new High Court Building and $60m on the Casey University. That is where the money that ought to be allocated to road construction, road maintenance and saving lives in this country ought to be going. That is what being responsible is all about. We have sitting opposite us a bunch of economic squanderers. I do not see a group of responsible administrators but a bunch of economic squanderers. In a vote taken on the construction of the Casey University the other day, there was a split in the Government ranks. The Public Works Committee report was thrown out. That is the Government members' version of being responsible. Let us hear no more about the Government being responsible.

In my speech in the course of the second reading debate, on the subject of funding I asked whether the Government's policy supported formula funding, global funding or funding similar to what is contained in this Bill. The Minister for Transport (Mr Hunt) responded that provisions are made for formula funding. A reference to that fact is contained in his second reading speech. I direct attention to clause 16 of the Bill. The clause is headed 'Principles relating to allocations for local roads '.Sub-clause 1 provides:

The Minister may enter into consultations with the appropriate Minister of a State for the purpose of formulating principles relating to the making of allocations . . .

Sub-clause (2) of clause 16 provides that the Minister 'may make a determination'. Obviously, that is the aspect to which the Minister referred a few moments ago. Clause 16 merely provides a means for the Minister to discuss with State Ministers for transport an alternative method of developing allocations for urban local or rural local roads.

Mr Hunt - It is co-operative federalism.

Mr MORRIS - It is coercive federalism because the two categories have been combined. Now that my attention has been drawn to it, I make that point. The Government has abolished the power of local government to have some say whether local road funding goes to the metropolitan areas or whether a fair share goes to the rural areas. What the Government has done is to place local government at the total mercy of the conservative State Premiers.

Mr Baume - Don't you support what is being done?

Mr MORRIS - Be quiet, little man.

Mr Young - You were talking about his mind, were you not?

Mr MORRIS - I was talking about his integrity more than anything else. This Bill places local government at the absolute mercy of conservative State Premiers. There is a capitulation by this Government. A reference was made a few moments ago by the Minister to the table of figures on road funding and the comparison between rural local funding, urban local funding and urban arterial funding that was incorporated in Hansard by the honourable member for Macarthur (Mr Baume). What both gentlemen deliberately avoided mentioning was that under the 1974-77 program of the National Roads Grants Act, the Federal Government accepted for the first time 100 per cent financial responsibility for national roads, national highways and national highway construction. The expectation was that the 20 per cent cost previously borne by the respective State governments in respect of national highways was to be allocated by the State governments of the day to the local road programs, particularly to rural roads. As history shows that did not happen. That 20 per cent saving on the part of the State in respect of national highways was purloined by the State premiers and applied to other purposes. So for the sake of accuracy in the record and to keep the integrity of the honourable member for Macarthur and the Minister for Transport in order I point that out to this House. I finish my remarks at this stage because of an undertaking to allow the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Humphreys) to speak in this debate.

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