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Tuesday, 11 September 1973
Page: 811

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Mackellar (WARRINGAH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Order! I suggest that the House come to order.

Mr ENDERBY - There was a time in Australia's early years when the world looked to us for guidance in fair wage laws, in looking after the old and the sick and in many other measures for achieving social justice which we pioneered and for which we obtained a world wide reputation. The Australian Labor Party in government intends to restore Australia to that pre-eminence. This first Labor Budget in 23 years is an historic step along the road to building a society which can be an example for all the world and to which all Australians will be proud to belong. We can afford it. In fact we have a profound responsibility to make good use of the riches in Australia that we have been given. We should not sit back on them or idly relinquish control of them as our Liberal-Country Party predecessors did but say that we accept the challenge and the fact that geography and history have placed our nation in control of vast resources and not waste the chance. That is our position in Australia today. Our numerically small nation controls a significant portion of the world's wealth. I say the 'world's' advisedly because the day has long passed when a nation can afford to regard itself as a single unit isolated from the rest of the world. We are all one community now - the global village, as Marshal McLuhan called it. As trustees for such a major part of the resources of mankind, we are on the cutting edge.

It is rich societies such as ours that must discover the keys to survival of our increasingly over-populated arid depleted globe and point the way to a just and viable future for all mankind. These are the responsibilities which our predecessors - the Liberal-Country Party coalition government shirked and of which it probably was not even aware. They are grave responsibilities indeed. It is a tremendous task to justify the advantages we have and to develop our society so that Australians can reap the full benefit from their inheritance and so that we, as a nation, can play our part in advancing the interests of humanity.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr MacKellar - Order! I am afraid that your ministerial colleagues and others are not giving you the degree of attention which they should. I ask for order in the chamber.

Mr ENDERBY - Our first task is to build a just society at home. This Budget is only the beginning but it is the right sort of beginning. It points the way to the achievement of a fairer distribution within our own society. It provides assistance to the elderly, to orphans, to the handicapped, to the rich, to the needy, to education and to the cities where the great mass of Australians live. There is much more to be done but the important thing is that at last we are moving forward again. Australians walk taller because of this Budget.

We are once more assuming our proper role as a leader in the development of social welfare programs and as a responsible and forward looking member of the world economy. Of course, many of the things the Government would like to do are not feasible at present. We all remember the deficit and the mess that this Government inherited from its predecessor. We are handicapped by the antiquated structure of the Australian Constitution. But because of the particular responsibilities that I hold as Minister for the Capital Territory and Minister for the Northern Territory, I will confine my remarks in the short time allowed to us in this debate to a discussion of the relevance of this Budget to the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory.

In the Australian Capital Territory and to a lesser extent in the Northern Territory, the Australian Government has the power to act directly for the welfare of its citizens. It is my intention that these Territories should act as beacons, pointing the ways in which our society can develop not, of course, because the Territories should be singled out for special attention in any way but merely because they can be examples where the Australian Government has the power that it lacks in the rest of Australia. Provision is made in the Budget for a community health centre in the Australian Capital Territory, in the new suburb of Melba. This is the first of its kind in Australia. Residents of the appropriate suburbs can receive free treatment on the spot by government employed doctors. Also available is a chemist to fill prescriptions, a physiotherapist if that sort of treatment is needed, a dentist and social workers. In Scullin, an adjoining suburb, a similar community health centre is operating on a different basis, using doctors on a fee for service type system to give an alternative and a freedom of choice to the people of Canberra. This is a system that needs to be extended into other parts of Australia. One would hope that sooner or later this will be done. Other centres are planned for Canberra. We would like to see these facilities in all Australian communities, along with the more traditional health centres. The model is being created in Canberra.

I refer now to public transport. The overwhelming majority of Australians live in big cities and have to battles with appalling transport facilities to get to and from work. Again in Canberra, where it is possible to do this sort of thing, we are trying to show the way to a better system. Radical new rapid transport systems are being evaluated and we are almost doubling our bus fleet at a cost of $2.4m over 2 years. We are introducing experimental free bus services in order to persuade people to leave their cars at home. We accept the responsibility of assisting people to get to and from work and we are doing something about it. We accept also the responsibility for getting them into their homes at a price they can afford.

In the near future a whole new system of land distribution and a new integrated housing policy will be unveiled in the Australian Capital Territory. We are convinced that we can get owner-occupied homes and rental accommodation on to the market cheaper than it is at present and certainly cheaper than it would have been had our predecessors, the Liberal-Country Party government, remained in office. The Budget for 1973-74 will give us a 56 per cent increase in government accommodation units in Canberra. There, will be 1,505 units compared with 965 in the year 1972-73. It is a notorious fact that under the previous administration the percentage of homes built by the government of the day declined from something like 70 per cent of all built in 1957 to less than 30 per cent of all built in 1972. We are restoring the balance.

The Budget provides also for the servicing in 1973-74 of enough land for the Government and private enterprise for the building of about 1,800 more homes than the 5,500 which were built last year. This is a significant percentage increase. I am reminded that my colleague the Minister for Housing (Mr Les Johnson) put it to me earlier this evening that the percentage increase of funds for housing throughout Australia coming from this Government is something in the order of 26 per cent - another significant percentage increase. This, again, is an attempt to redress the balance of the degree of rundown that had occurred under the previous Government. These initiatives will be welcomed by people on the government housing lists whose turn for a dwelling should come more quickly than was thought possible before the introduction of this Budget. The provision of more land should help those people in our community who prefer to help themselves with housing. Overall, the amount available for expenditure by the Department of the Capital Territory in 1973-74 will be $48m, an increase of 37.5 per cent over the amount spent on comparable functions by the former Department of the Interior in 1972-73. This is consistent with the large percentage increases that have taken place throughout the whole of Australia, whether it be on education, housing, social services, Aborigines, money spent on the cities through the Department of Urban and Regional Development or public transport.

The Government will begin work in the Australian Capital Territory this financial year on a program of civil works amounting to some $120m. These new projects include S9.2m worth of education facilities, among which will be Canberra's first transitional colleges for fifth and sixth form pupils. This is yet another example of what can be done by a government which has the will and the determination to do it in the places where it can do it. There will be increased expenditure on social, cultural and welfare undertakings. Expenditure on social welfare will rise by 30 per cent from $518,000 last financial year to $649,000 this financial year. This will cover payments for distressed housing, for the new right of pensioners and others in need to a 50 per cent cut in rates, bus fare subsidies for pensioners, cash sustenance, food orders and clothing for people in need, and to bridge the time gap between applying for social benefits provided by the Australian Government and their approval.

The Government will go ahead with construction of an Australian Capital Territory remand centre to provide a modern alternative to the present unhappy arrangement bequeathed to us by the previous Government of holding ACT male prisoners in the Goulburn Gaol and of sending women prisoners to the Silverwater complex in Sydney. An amount of $20,000 has been allocated to extend the activities of the Family Planning Association beyond the present 2 centres for advice in Beauchamp House and the Woden Plaza to Canberra's 2 public hospitals, to the health centres and to Jervis Bay. The Canberra Theatre Trust grant will be increased from $37,900 last financial yeal to '$67,000 this year. To assist old people the Department of the Capital Territory will make sites available free in various parts of Canberra to non-profit organisations interested in building homes for the aged. This offer will be open to acceptable organisations such as the usual charitable institutions, lodges and professional bodies.

Let me sum up some of the benefits the Government has brought to the Australian Capital Territory. I deal first with land. Dwelling units on serviced sites are up $1,800 on last year to $7,300, a rise of 33 per cent. Government houses and flats are up $540 to $1,505, a rise of 56 per cent. Estimated expenditure on Commissioner for Housing loans is up $14,950,000 over last year to $18,750,000. Expenditure on public transport is doubled to an estimated $2,311,000. In the area of social welfare and culture expenditure is up $166,9 15 or 15 per cent. So the story could go on. More important than money, of course, are the ideas that are being implemented in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. I instance selective price control, shopkeepers' charters, law reform and new methods of land distribution.

Canberra is a young city, just as Australia is a young country. There is no reason for the mistakes of the past to be repeated here, and we are determined that they will not be. It is already a better place to live in than most Australian cities and it can be made better still, hut we must remind ourselves continually that in doing these things in the Territories they are being done as examples for the States, for the rest of Australia to follow. The Whitlam Government recognised the importance of the Territories when it set up the Capital Territory portfolio. It also recognised the importance of the Northern Territory when it decided to base the Department of the Northern Territory in Darwin instead of allowing it to be neglected as it had been for so many years under previous governments.

I turn to the Northern Territory. We have budgeted for a record expenditure of more than $l92m this year - clear evidence of our concern for the welfare and development of the Territory. We have further underlined our commitment to the future of the north by creating a separate Ministry to administer it, and, as I have said, basing the new Department of the Northern Territory in Darwin. This must be regarded as a major step forward. It marks the end of 'the bad old days when the Northern Territory was just a tucked away appendage to the grab-bag Ministry of the the Interior, to be visited infrequently by its Minister and thought about even less. I am committed to creating conditions in the Northern Territory in no way inferior to those enjoyed by other Australians. Darwin and Alice Springs are growing at approximately 12 per cent per annum compound. Record expenditures are contained in this .Budget in the fields of education and health services and substantial increases have been provided for community facilities in the north. This is part of our overall plan to increase the attractiveness of the Northern Territory as a place for families to live and put down their roots. Development in its broadest sense can not be achieved unless full recognition is given to the social needs of the community.

One of the most satisfying features of the Budget from the point of view of the Northern Territory is the record amount of $53m to be spent on capital works. Here again the Government has sought to achieve a balance between the economic and the social needs of the Territory in apportioning this record figure. For example, a first step has been taken towards improving the quality of life in the smaller centres through the provision of better public utilities and town roads. We are endeavouring through a land acquisition scheme to introduce the benefits that we see in Canberra of proper town planning for the people of the Darwin area. By converting the land tenure system to leasehold - true leasehold - we will try to protect the interests of both the present residents and generations to come against speculation and misuse.

We recognise Aborigines are a major proportion of the Northern Territory's population. They are a people who have been sadly neglected by past Australian governments. In this, the first Budget of the Whitlam Labor Government, we have outlayed more than $117m for Aboriginal advancement. This is almost double the provision made in the last Budget by the Liberal and Country Parties. It is an earnest determination to do everything we can to make up to these deprived citizens of Australia for the neglect of the past. I commend the Budget to the House.

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