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Tuesday, 22 May 1973
Page: 2365

Mr LAMB (LA TROBE, VICTORIA) - Has the attention of the Minister for Urban and Regional Development been drawn to a report in today's Press of statements made separately by the GovernorGeneral and by the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia in which they criticise the centralisation of offices and industry in inner city areas? According to this report, the Governor-General suggested that the practice was uneconomic and inefficient, and that offices and the office staff should be decentralised. Can the Minister give this House an indication as to how this Government will overcome the difficulties in moving industries, particularly those in the tertiary sector, away from the present nodes of concentration and how it will better balance residential, industrial and servicing industries in the developing areas of existing cities and new growth centres?

Mr UREN (REID, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Urban and Regional Development) - My attention has been drawn to a report of the speeches made by the Governor-General and the Chief Justice of Australia. I commend the statements of those 2 gentlemen. It is a fact that there has been an overbuilding of the central business districts of our capital cities. The Government has taken positive action to rectify this development. The first decision made by Cabinet in the area concerned the proposed development of the Woolloomooloo site for Commonwealth Offices in the central business district of Sydney. The decision was made to develop an Australian Government centre at Parramatta instead, some 15 miles from the centre of Sydney. We are examining also sites in various parts of other cities away from the central business districts, particularly in Melbourne. We are re-examining whether we should use the Spring Street site in Melbourne. One has to bear in mind that during the last 10 years the previous Government permitted the overbuilding of office space by insurance companies in the central business districts of our cities. Investment for this type of development alone increased from $144m in December 1961 to nearly $ 1,200m in December 1972, an increase of something like 700 per cent. In the same period the insurance companies increased their statutory reserves by little more than 200 per cent. Therefore we will be having discussions with insurance companies to try to encourage them to decentralise their investment in commercial development at nodes along transport corridors so as to bring about a balanced development of transport within the major cities. The Treasurer has taken action to curb foreign investment in real estate. The Government is now examining this question to ensure that if there is foreign investment in real estate in Australia the Government will be able to determine where the development should be located. There are some of the positive actions taken by the Australian Government to try to bring some balance to the development of Australian cities. At present the 2 major crisis cities are Sydney and Melbourne. It is our aim to take positive action to bring balance and a better quality of living to those major cities.

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