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Tuesday, 15 May 1973
Page: 2090

Dr KLUGMAN (Prospect) - I rise to discuss, not the machinery amendment which has been moved by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) but the question of the kind of people who ought to be appointed to the Cities Commission which is provided for under this clause. To some extent my remarks will also relate to the Cities Commission Advisory Committee which is dealt with in clause 11 of the amending Bill. I would like to preface my remarks, as I did not speak in the second reading debate on this Bill, by saying that if the work of the Cities Commission is successful - and I feel confident that this will be so - it will have a great and favourable impact on a great number of people living in this country. I think it is the most important aspect of the. whole of the Australian Labor Party program. It is true that we have worked very hard as the Minister said - he himself during the last 3 years and the present Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) for even longer than that - to get the message across that we have to do something about the quality of life of the people in the cities. I do not know the names of the people who will be appointed to constitute this Commission and the Advisory Committee but one of my worries is that they will not have the same priorities as I have.

I think it is important to realise that the sort of person who is usually appointed to commissions and advisory committees, because of his training and because he is able to express himself better than the average citizen living in the area concerned, is not really representative of the citizens in the area even if he lives there himself, and in the majority of cases he does not even live in the area. He is usually a person who can be described as a middle class intellectual and his ideas as to culture and quality of life are not necessarily those of the people who live in the area concerned. We have been urging the , .oint of view that what we want to do is to improve the quality of life of the people in the cities of Australia. Everybody has a different view on the quality of life. To me it just means that people should have as many choices as possible. Inasmuch as those choices are limited, either by a lack of facilities in the areas or by a lack of finance on the part of the individuals concerned, we have to do something about the. matter.

When dealing, for example, with the question of cultural attitudes or the sneering on the part of the kind of person I mentioned earlier, no absolute belief should be permitted, for instance, that a British Broadcasting Corporation series such as 'The Six Wives of Henry VITI' or 'Elizabeth R' should be forced on to the people, instead of 'No. 96'. I think it is important to remember that people may consider 'No. 96' more relevant to their lives and therefore more interesting. It always amuses me how some of the self-styled radical academics talk big about 'relevant' education. To them, that means such things as discussions on womens lib, racial theory or the revolutionary aspirations of the third world. I have no objection to their being discussed but these people do not see any inconsistency between this and their attitude when discussing culture for the majority of people. They want to limit to fairly old fashioned and narrow limits and they absolutely gush when they can find someone who is prepared to use a spinning wheel or some such old fashioned item of what they consider to be culture. I think it is important that we must not allow these self styled experts to force on the rest of society their beliefs in regard to aesthetics - that, for example, the Sydney Mint is necessarily more beautiful than the State Government office block; that sandstone blocks are more beautiful than concrete; that wood is preferable to glass or plastic or other synthetic materials; or that Paddington terraces are necessarily more beautiful than high rise, rental accommodation.

I notice that the honourable member for Hotham (Mr Chipp), who is a member of the Liberal Party executive, is now at the table. I think that he made a speech yesterday in which he criticised high rise rental accommodation. I do not necessarily disagree with the propositions which I have ascribed to the people I am criticising, but I just do not believe that there is any way of making absolute decisions on those points. It is up to the people to make their own decisions as to whether they prefer one form of aesthetics to another - whether they prefer the appearance of a sandstone building or a concrete building, or whether they prefer high rise accommodation with its advantages and disadvantages to the sort of accommodation that the honourable member for Hotham feels every right minded Australian should be living in. I hope that I am quoting the honourable member correctly. I think that in the 3 years leading up to the last election we made specific promises to improve facilities in the developing suburbs. I think that what we were referring to, and what people certainly understood us to be referring to, was the need to spend large sums of money on transport, sewerage, drainage, health services, education facilities and so on. We had in mind that this money was not available locally, that the sort of people who live in these areas cannot afford the huge rates that might be necessary to improve some of these services and that it must be Commonwealth money that is spent here. I feel, of course, quite confident that this will happen.

I just want to emphasise that those of us who represent these areas would like the Minister for Urban and Regional Develop ment, who is now at the table, to make it clear to those appointed to the Commission and to the Advisory Committee that whilst they may have personal preferences for pre- 1850 houses or cast iron balconies or the preservation of bedrooms that were slept in by Governor Macquarie, that is not their functon; their main function is to deal with what the Minister referred to when he concluded his second reading speech. I will repeat the 3 points that he made because I think it is important to emphasise them to the people who are to be appointed to the Advisory Committee and to the Commission. The Minister said that their function will be to bring about changes in our cities, to make them more efficient and to equalise the opportunities for urban living.

Motion (by Mr Daly) agreed to:

That the question be now put.

Amendments agreed to.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 8 to 10 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.

Clause 11.

Section 14 of the Principal Actis amended by omitting sub-section (1) and substituting the following sub-section:

(1)   There shall be a Cities Commission Advisory Committee to advise the Commission in connection with its duties and powers under this Act.'.

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