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Thursday, 30 August 1973
Page: 686

Mr KEOGH (Bowman) - After listening to the first 20 minutes of the speech that the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony) found that he had to deliver this afternoon, it is no wonder that the effectiveness of it was displayed so readily by the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) when he was prepared to move for an extension of time for the right honourable gentleman to give us another 10 minutes of it. The whinging, whining prophet of doom attitude that he has taken surely indicates the frustration of the Country Party when it realised that it was led by the nose into opposition by the failure of its senior partner in coalition, not only in the months preceding the election but also in a period of some years preceding it. It has failed to live up to the hopes that people have held for the coalition for some years under its first Leader, Sir Robert Menzies. In his speech last Tuesday evening, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) endeavoured to suggest that one of the points on which he was taking the Government to task was its failure to implement election promises. What hypocrisy for the Leader of the Opposition to suggest, after this Government has been in office for only 9 months, that there would not be some election promises that as yet remain to be implemented. Let me remind honourable members opposite that, for 23 years, their Government continually made promises at election after election and many of them will recall, certainly if they are honest in their recollections, that those promises for the most part failed, and failed miserably. The people who supported them over the years finally despaired of any chance of getting them to implement the policies on which they had been elected-

Mr Giles - I rise to take a point of order. Would the honourable gentleman be polite enough, instead of accusing us of these things, to identify what promises were not kept?

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order!The honourable member for Angas will resume his seat and will not take irresponsible points of order.

Mr KEOGH - The honourable member for Angas knows as well as I and the people of Australia know that promises were broken more often than they were kept by the Liberal Party in government. Last year, the final Budget of a generation of Liberal-Country Party governments was delivered by the present Leader of the Opposition who then was known as Billy Mackie Snedden. He is now known as Bill. A leading article in the 'Sunday Telegraph' of 13 August last year said:

The Liberal-Country Party Government will be bringing in its 23rd consecutive Budget on Tuesday night. All the signs point towards it being the last for quite a few years.

The headline was: 'Can Billie Mackie Snedden's Budget save the McMahon Government?' Well, of course, it could not. On 2 December, a new government was elected. We are not ashamed of the fact that, as we have been accused, in this Budget we have set new horizons, that it is a Budget of new directions and that it is a Budget that introduces some socialistic principles to this nation. It is the Budget of a democratic socialist party. Honourable members opposite might as well get used to speaking on our Budgets from the Opposition benches because, at the rate at which they are going, they will be doing so for quite a number of years.

I take the opportunity, in congratulating the Treasurer (Mr Crean) on his first Budget, to highlight a few of the important aspects of that document which interest me and the electorate of Bowman which I have the honour to represent. The announcement that $10m will be made available in 1973-74 to assist the States and eligible organisations to meet the capital and operating costs of providing community health facilities and services is certainly welcome. A large proportion of electors in Bowman are pensioners or are in receipt of repatriation benefits. As these people are concentrated in areas at the out skirts of Brisbane, there are certainly great benefits to come to those people from the introduction of such a scheme as will be implemented in due course in accordance with the program that has been laid down in the report on a community health program for Australia which was tabled in this Parliament recently by the Minister for Health (Dr Everingham).

One other item in which I am particularly interested is the amount of $250,000 that is to be made available to acquire sites and to prepare plans for major hospitals in Brisbane and Melbourne. This allocation was announced in the Budget Speech by the Treasurer at the same time as he announced that $4.5m was being provided to meet the urgent needs of hospitals in the major Australian capitals. Also, $4m was to be provided towards the cost of a hospital in the western suburbs of Sydney. I would hope that when we speak next year on the Budget for 1974- 75 the same attention which has been given in this Budget to the development of a new major suburban hospital in Sydney will have been accorded to Brisbane. There is no doubt that the great free hospital system which operates in Queensland and which was established by a Queensland Labor Government many years ago has been sadly neglected in the years that it has been supported reluctantly by Country Party-Liberal Party coalitions in that State. The injection of such amounts of money as will be forthcoming from this Government with the introduction of the national health scheme will be needed greatly in the city of Brisbane. A great need for such moneys exists in Brisbane today.

I congratulate the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Bishop) on the introduction of the important benefits that will give the opportunity now for Boer War and World War I veterans to have available to them the facilities of repatriation hospitals. I recall a question that I asked the then Minister for Repatriation and which was answered on 12 September 1972. The answer disclosed that, at that time, fewer than 200 Boer War veterans were not qualified for those benefits and some 66,700 World War I veterans were not so qualified. Those veterans who remain from those numbers will certainly receive great benefit from the announcement by the Treasurer that this worth while facility will be made available to them.

It is timely that we have now the opportunity to implement the important benefit for home owners that was announced in the policy speech of the then Leader of the Opposition, the present Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam). As he said in his policy speech - the Minister for Housing (Mr Les Johnson) has indicated legislation to implement that policy will be introduced later this year - 'There will be introduced legislation to provide tax concessions for home owners'. The Prime Minister stated in his policy speech that where the actual income was $4,000 per annum or less, people would be entitled to a deduction of 100 per cent of their interest rate payments and that the percentage of total interest payment which is deductible will be reduced to 1 per cent for every SI 00 in excess of that $4,000.

This is a scheme which will virtually replace the scheme that has been in operation now since July 1964 and is known as the homes savings grants scheme. The Minister for Housing has announced that that scheme will not be ended abruptly; it will be phased out over a period. It is interesting to note that that scheme was introduced following the 1963 elections in an endeavour to allay the fear of the then Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, who felt that it was up to him to do something for the home owners and the people who needed to be provided with a better opportunity to gain a home. I understand from the records that I have studied that at that time some 70,000 Australians were seeking homes and were unable to get them. The increase in the years that the former Government remained in office brought that figure to some 93,000 at the time when it went out of office last December.

That scheme operated mainly to the disadvantage of young people. It was never completely explained to them. Many young people who had need for that grant found themselves excluded from the opportunity to gain a homes savings grant because of the very many discriminatory regulations that were put into effect in the life of the scheme. In the year 1971-72 - the last year for which records of its operation are available - 89,278 homes were built in Australia. I will readily admit that not all of those homes would be first homes being built by young married people. Taking into consideration that a great percentage of those homes would be in that category, I note with interest that only 38,674 people qualified for the benefits of the homes savings grants scheme in 1971-72. The cost of that scheme in 1971-72 was $16.9m. The benefits which we propose and which will be implemented by the introduction of the interest rebates for home owners, according to a very reliable estimate that I have been able to obtain, will be worth some $80m a year to young and old people alike who are paying off their first home. Those people will reap the benefits of this scheme. The recipients of the benefits will not be restricted, as so many were under the provisions of the scheme that this measure will replace. 1 wish to make a brief reference to one other very important matter that was mentioned by the Treasurer in his Budget Speech. I refer to the provision of $3m during this financial year for grants to the States for a one-year program of traffic management and improvement at locations with poor accident records. These grants will go a long way towards overcoming one of the greatest problems that we face in the capital cities, namely the high death rate that grows year by year. Other attention has been given by the Government to that problem, as can be seen in the re-establishment of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Road Safety which operated in the last Parliament. My concern for road safety brings me to refer to the report issued by the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads that has been recently circulated to honourable members. It deals with the benefits of stopping freeway construction in State capital cities. It deals also with the benefits of allowing freeway construction that has been planned for the capital cities to be continued. It is interesting to note that it is suggested that one of the important advantages of urban freeways is in reducing accidents. The report which is entitled 'Report on the Effects of Stopping Freeway Construction in State Capital Cities', states:

For example the planned opening of 8 miles of freeways in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth next year is expected to result in a saving of 10 to IS fatalities and ISO to 200 casualties in each year of their operation.

Surely such a saving of human life warrants the expenditure on the construction of that 8 miles of freeways. I wish to impress this upon the Government: From my close study of the freeway position in the city in which I live - Brisbane - I suggest that it would be of great benefit to that city if the Government saw fit to allow the continuation of the planned freeway development in that city. At present, Brisbane needs the development of freeways perhaps much more than Sydney and Melbourne do. The freeways system in Brisbane virtually has only begun.

A great deal of expenditure is planned for the Brisbane area in the next three to five years. Within the next 12 months it is intended to complete an additional one mile of freeway. Within the next 3 years it is the intention of the authorities to construct an additional 20.25 miles of freeway. These freeways in the Brisbane area will provide a great service to the people of the city and to the people of the adjoining areas. There is no doubt in my mind that there is every need to stop at this stage and to examine the feasibility of continuing freeway development. I might say at this stage that I sympathise completely with the people who are displaced by the development of freeways. Most of them are Labor Party supporters - the people in the more depressed areas closer to the inner city. These people in the past, to a great extent, have found that the compensation that they have been offered has been far from adequate. I would raise my voice in support of very adequate compensation for these people. I believe that the compensation should be more than the market value of their property to compensate them not only for having to replace their home in the new areas to which they must go but also for having to move out of the area in which they have been used to living and being forced to resettle in a new area. Whilst I have sympathy for these people, I believe that the immediate freeway development in Brisbane has been well planned. With only a small variation of the routes that are planned at present, it will provide a great benefit at a very reasonable cost in the future development of the city of Brisbane. Of course, to a great extent this is due-

Mr Cooke - Thanks to your friend Jo.

Mr KEOGH - I have not any friend named Jo. The interjection reminds me of my good friend the Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Alderman Clem Jones, who, of course, would be recognised as one of the most able authorities in this nation on the development of cities. His guiding hand has been responsible for tempering and putting into a responsible form many of the decisions made in respect of the development of freeways in the Brisbane area.

Finally, I refer to the lack of co-operation by Queensland in assisting the Government to implement the promise made by the Prime

Minister in respect of the establishment of land development commissions in the various States. The Government would be more inclined to deal with the Minister for Lands in Queensland, the Honourable Wally Rae, than with the Premier of that State. If the Premier had stayed overseas a little longer when he was on his recent venture, the Lord Mayor of Brisbane and Mr Rae certainly would have had an opportunity to develop a scheme for providing large areas of land in Brisbane, as they announced at a joint Press conference. But, of course, their plans were sabotaged by Mr Jo Bjelke-Petersen, the Premier of Queensland, when he came back on to the scene. Of urgent necessity in the city of Brisbane is the implementation of that section of the Government's policy. At the moment prices of land in Brisbane are skyrocketing. I hope in the near future to have an opportunity to say more about that. Perhaps I will be able to do so during consideration of the Department of Housing estimates. Suffice it to say at this moment that it is about time the Government of Queensland realised the genuineness of the provisions of the scheme proposed by this Government.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes}Order! The honourable member's time has expired.

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