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Wednesday, 12 September 1973
Page: 863

Mr JAMES (Hunter) - It. was not my intention to speak on the matter before the House but I cannot recall a previous occasion when I have been afforded the luxury of such praise as was directed to me by my political colleague, the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly). I am somewhat elated. It seldom happens that one is the sole dissentient in a committee of 9 intelligent persons. When one is the sole dissentient and one looks at oneself in the mirror one thinks: T must be an odd bod. I am against the other 8'. That was my attitude after listening to the evidence in Darwin last year as to the route which this road, the Palmerston Highway, should take. I was conscious of the fact. I never like to be an odd bod and I thought I might have been queer, but not in the sense that engenders the mirth ; I most certainly am not one of those. The Parliament referred back the recommendation of the previous Public Works Committee as to the route that the road should take and the Committee - except, I understand, for Senator Jessop - after considering the evidence again and no doubt additional evidence, changed its view to the view that I held singularly last year. This goes to show that one can have the right argument but not the numbers.

Mr Kelly - That is the trouble we have.

Mr JAMES - You have not the numbers. I am very happy to see that the Committee finally decided to recommend that the route of this road should be the route that I supported last year. I thought it was vitally important that, if possible, the private properties should not be encroached upon. The motorists who will use the highway believe that they should be able to travel around the cliffs of Fannie Bay and view the beautiful sunsets, which I think are prettier there than in other parts of Australia.

I also hold the view that private individuals in our free democracy should at all times express their opinions on the route that a road should take. I remember my father years ago pointing out to me where the main highway from Newcastle to Maitland was diverted around Baron John Brown's coal property. In my view this should not have been done. The people had. to travel around a virtual dog-leg road because Baron Brown said: 'The council shall not put a road through my property.' He took the local council to the High Court of Australia and the Privy Council. I do not know whether he won or whether money power won. I am prepared to accept that it was the power of money that actually got the decision. I am not inferring that the Privy Council was corrupt, but we know that one has to have wealth to take a legal matter to the Privy Council. The community had to put up with the inconvenience of the diversion along a dog-leg road at Hexham due to the arrogance and the power of money of the late Baron Brown. I support the motion and I am very elated at the decision of the Public Works Committee. I am particularly grateful for the perhaps extravagant praise that the honourable member for Wakefield directed to me this afternoon.

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