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Tuesday, 15 May 1973
Page: 2081

Mr UREN (Reid) (Minister for Urban and Regional Development -12.58) - The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) misquoted my statements on the Dandenongs in the letter which I sent to the Melbourne 'Age' of 5th April 1973. To clarify the position, I ask that the letter be incorporated in Hansard.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Berinson) - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -

SIR, - On Tuesday in Canberra, I released a detailed statement to the Press arising out of my visit to the Dandenongs.

I feel that your editorial yesterday was a fair analysis although it implied that I had not given a lot of consideration to the Dandenongs. I have over many years given a great deal of thought to the Dandenongs and other such places of natural beauty in Australia.

Mr Whitlamsaid in his policy speech that we would 'acquire land for national parks; land on which historic buildings or buildings specially worthy of preservation are sited; land along the coastline where the people's access to their beaches is endangered; land in other areas needing special protection such as the Blue Mountains'. The Dandenongs is an area which we would consider as needing such special protection.

The question to me is not whether the Dandenongs should be preserved but how they should be preserved.

In the long run, the only way to ensure preservation is for the land to be within the public sector. Even planning controls will not be sufficient in the long term.

Your editorial talks of the costs of conserving the Dandenongs and of the Victorian State Government's activities in buying areas and I support their action. But I am also aware that the State has limited financial resources to carry out this task. Indeed, I note in yesterday's Press a call by the Victorian Minister for Conservation (Mr Borthwick) on the Australian Government for $20m to help Victoria save its beauty spots.

My position on the long-term preservation therefore is that ultimately the land should be in the public sector but that this will need financial support from the Australian Government. I will shortly be making a submission to Cabinet on the national estate.

I was disturbed to see the Premier (Mr Hamer) quoted in your paper yesterday as saying that the State Government 'would not allow the Federal Government to "eject" people from their homes in the Dandenongs'. I have never suggested that people be ejected from their homes, neither on my visit to the Dandenongs on this occasion, nor on any other occasion.

In my statement on Tuesday,I pointed out thatI did not want to get into a slugging match with State Ministers and that the preservation of the Dandenongs is a responsibility of the Victorian Government and its agencies. There can be no question of interfering with the rights of people who have already established homes in the Dandenongs. But the time has come for a halt to further residential development. This brings me to the measures we should be taking in the short term while we are progressively acquiring land.

Although 1 maintain that even planning controls are not sufficient in the long term, they must be employed in the short term.

Already the Dandenongs are subject to the processes of suburbanisation. There are pressures building up for the area to be a residential one with commuting to employment in the central city and the city of Dandenong. There are demands for increased services in the area. However, if services are upgraded, it will inevitably lead to pressures for further growth in the area. 1 see it as part of my Ministerial responsibility to constantly challenge Australians to preserve our national heritage on which a great deal of damage has been inflated in past years.

What the Federal Government wants to do is to assist the State Government to conserve the Dandenongs as a beautiful area for the whole metropolis of Melbourne.

TOM UREN (Minister for Urban Affairs, Canberra).

Sitting suspended from 12.59 to 2.15 p.m.

Clause 1.

(1)   This Act may be cited as the Cities Commission Act 1973.

(2)   The National Urban and Regional Development Authority Act 1972* is in this Act referred to as the Principal Act.

(3)   The Principal Act, as amended by this Act, may be cited as the Cities Commission Act 1972- 1973.

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