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Wednesday, 4 June 1969


Senator WEBSTER (Victoria) - The Commonwealth Aid Roads Bill 1969 lays for this Government the foundation of a national road policy for the first time this century. Road transport is of vital interest to Australia's citizens and of tremendous importance in every aspect of public life. It is of vital importance to commerce and industry. Roads have an effect on the location of development and on planning for the development of cities, suburbs and country towns. Again, the prospective development of every shire and borough is based on a road system.

The Commonwealth seeks to give most energetic leadership in its attempt to solve the many problems which are evident because of the development of our traffic system. Improved reading has been of great assistance in many ways in rural areas. It has meant the provision of access to properties; it has overcome the disadvantages of distance; it has led to better communications, and it has done much for town and civic development. In fact, improved roading has gone a long way towards achieving that which so many honourable senators aim at achieving - greater decentralisation. I believe, however, that in drafting this Bill insufficient attention has been given to the important aspect of decentralisation. There can be no doubt that the policy laid down so many years ago by the Bruce-Page Government that a certain percentage of Commonwealth moneys should be allocated to the development of rural roads has meant a great dealto the development of Australia.


Senator Gair - It is not Commonwealth money; it is money collected from the States.


Senator WEBSTER - That is quite so. By this Bill, over $600m is to be allocated for the construction and maintenance of roads serving an area of 8,400 square miles while the sum of $58 lm is to be utilised for roads serving 29,591,000 square miles. I think the Commonwealth Government showed great wisdom - perhaps this was because of pressure brought to bear upon it - in not adopting all the recommendations contained in the report of the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads. I refer in particular to its wisdom in recognising that there are more important things to consider in planning for the future development of the Commonwealth than the immediate cost benefit analysis to which reference was made in the Bureau's report.

I could speak of the very many letters that no doubt have been received by all honourable senators from various shires and municipalities relating to the problems with which they are confronted. And these problems are very great. For many years now the mayors of our capital cities have stressed the need for better road systems in the metropolitan areas, and I agree with them. The bottlenecks created in our cities due to the tremendous growth of motor transport as a result of the great improvement in our standard of living must be costing this country million upon millions of dollars. In fact, so great has been this growth that Australia now stands second only to the United States of America in the proportion of motor vehicles to population. In the United States, the proportion is one motor vehicle for every 2.1. people. In New Zealand and Australia, it is one motor vehicle to approximately 2.8 people. In West Germany, it is one vehicle to every 5.5 people. Great credit is due to this and past governments for the work they have done in promoting our development to the point where we must give more attention to our roads.

I submit that the new classifications relating to roads on which moneys are to be spent is an improvement on the old method. With the concurrence of honourable senators, I incorporate in Hansard Appendix V of the report of the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads.

APPENDIX v







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