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Friday, 25 May 1973
Page: 2697

Mr IAN ROBINSON (COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Australian Country Party supports the opposition expressed by the honourable member for Parramatta (Mr N. H. Bowen) to the proposed clause in its present form. I think that the view he expressed certainly must be considered. I hope that the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), who is in charge of the Bill, and the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) will seriously consider the consequences of the clause now before the Committee. I believe that what they have failed to put to this Parliament thus far is any intimation of the system or manner in which determinations of a region will be made. In its present form the terminology does not reflect a relationship to existing statutory or nonstatutory bodies in the States. It is therefore patently clear that there will be created regions embodying groups of councils or existing authorities. Is is for this reason that the Australian Country Party is very concerned that there should be a circumstance in which, through regulations prescribed, this matter will come back to Parliament for some kind of sanction and scrutiny. If we do not have that provision we will have put on the statute book a circumstance in which the Minister will implement, after assent is given to the Bill, a situation by which regions or groups will be created for the purpose of obtaining benefits to be provided under this legislation. I believe that it is contrary to all the best principles of government for this to be done without reference to this Parliament.

One can foresee immediately tremendous problems of parochialism in local government areas. One can see immediately the disabilities that could arise and the political implications of those disabilities. I just want to say to the Prime Minister and the Minister for Urban and Regional Development that I think they fail to recognise the problem that they will have on their plate in this matter. I do not think it is a question of the Opposition saying that this is a back-door method. I do not want to use extreme words at all. 1 just want to talk about the practicalities of how a matter of this kind should in fact be administered. I am certain that the Minister for Urban and Regional Development has not had the kind of experience that many of us have had in local government and in areas where there is the disability of parochialism and the disability of a means of effective assessment of the facts in relation to what is required in a region or within a group of councils.

The remarks of the honourable member for Parramatta about what is a sound practice have application here. But there are also very practical reasons for serious consideration being given to the propositions put forward in the Government's amendment and in the amendment foreshadowed by the honourable member for Parramatta. I hope that this is the way in which this matter will be approached.

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