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Monday, 15 October 1973
Page: 2106

Mr SINCLAIR (New England) - It is with pleasure that I second this motion. It is unfortunate that tonight a certain series of statements were made by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren), who I believe is sincere in his way and who, I think, would like to assist in the alleviation of the problems of Australia and those Australians who live in the cities, but who regrettably identifies himself with an arbitrary manner of administration which intends to deny and will result in denying to those whom he seeks to assist the benefits which he proposes and which he would like to extend to them. Certainly in the arbitrary direction which has been given to those who live within this area of 32 square miles - 20,000 acres - there has been a complete denial of the right of every one of those citizens to learn not only what the Government intends for the future planning of Darwin but also how much they will be paid, when and in what way their land will be used.

Mr Bury - And what will happen next week.

Mr SINCLAIR - And what will happen next week. The whole problem with this plan is that it has 'been brought forward not because it is in existence but because the Government apparently says that it does not like what has happened in Darwin in the past. I have been through the papers to try to identify just what the problem is. I think all of us would agree that there is a tremendous problem in the development of Darwin. The people of Darwin advise us, and it is acknowledged, that they would look towards land in the future being used for the advancement of the causes of the city and they would hope that positive plans for development could be implemented. They are not querying the necessity for acquiring additional land. What the people are saying is that the arbitrary, high-handed intervention in the rights of the individual is something which is anathema to Australians. This Government is pursuing a course of action which denies the rights not only of those the Government likes to call the big men but of thousands of Australians - the Australian who owns his own home, the Australian who is paying a bank, a hire purchase company or a land development company for his land or his home. This Government could not give 2 hoots. This Government has intervened and said: 'We will take over this land'.

I hope that those who are listening on the air tonight heard the Minister for Urban and Regional Development say that it is not only in Darwin that the Government is doing this but that it will do it in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. I think it is important that it is recognised that the urban policy of this country is apparently to be set by a man who has tonight stated that in future, if the referendum that is coming before the Australian people on 8 December is successful, and perhaps even if it is not successful, the Government will intervene to acquire arbitrarily and compulsorily not with the consent of the land owner, not with the consent of the householder, land in each of the capital cities, without a plan, without explaining what is to be done with the land, without announcing any basis of compensation, without people really knowing whether the land will be used or what will happen to it. This Government intends to go in and say: Well, we are sorry. We are taking over all of Enmore. We are taking over all the inner suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne. We do not care who is there.' This is what the Government has said tonight.

The Minister for Urban and Regional Development has said that what is happening in Darwin today is the pattern for future development of our urban areas of Australia. I thing it is utterly disgraceful that there should be this intervention in the rights of the small landholder in Australia. Australia is a country in which most people like to own their own homes. About 85 per cent to 90 per cent of Australians own their own homes. I suspect that even the honourable member for Burke (Mr Keith Johnson) who is interjecting fairly consistently and persistently from the other side might aspire to own his own home if he does not already do so. It is something that most of us like to do. Owning our own home is fairly important, but this Government does not care.

This Government has said that it will acquire the land in Darwin. Let me explain to the House and to those others who are listening to this debate that the landholders in question are not querying the necessity for the acquisition of some additional lan.l to allow for the future growth of Darwin. What they are querying is the necessity to acquire 20,480 acres with the threat of more. It is necessary to destroy all the freehold titles in the process. what are the alternative strategies? Perhaps moving some of those little used Crown installations would have been sufficient. Is it necessary to ignore the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory? Is it necessary to forget that there is a Government up there? Perhaps it is an incipient government, not yet acting and certainly under this Governemnt not likely to act as a truly independent body, but it has a certain amount of power. Is it necessary to ignore the feelings of the Legislative Council in the issue? There has been a complete denial by the Minister for the Northern Territory (Mr Enderby) and by this Government of the opportunity to test the opinion of the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory.

It is absolutely deplorable that we have a Bill which affects the Northern Territory and which expressly denies the right of individual landholders to know what will be done with their land and how and when they will be paid. There is no question about what the Government is going to do. 1 accept, as the Minister for Urban and Regional Development has said tonight, that the planning of Darwin certainly leaves a lot to be desired. The planning of many of our cities leaves a lot to be desired, and I agree with that. This Government does not intend to tell us what it is going to do but comes in here and says: 'We do not like what you have done. We are just going to take over the land. When we get the lane we will work out what we are going to do'. That is what it is doing. It is not telling us what it is going to dc with the land. It is telling us tonight that it does not like what is there. The Government does not care a fig about the people currently living in those homes. It says: lt docs not matter about the land. We will take it over. We will tell them what we are going to do. We will tell the landholders what they can do with their houses. We do not know ourselves but sometime we will work it out'.

I think it is absolutely deplorable that there should have to be such a motion before the House because this Government has not acted responsibly in considering individual landholders. I am surprised that Government members do not support the motion which tries to ensure that what ali these little men of the Territory want is taken into account. I believe that there is a basis upon which individual land owners should be given a chance at least to be told how they are going to be paid for the land that will be acquired. They should be told when this Government intends to develop that land it is taking over, whether the whole 32 square miles will be developed immediately or whether part of it will be developed this year and some of it in 5 years or 10 years time. I do not think that that is unreasonable. Obviously, a large tract of land cannot possibly be developed immediately. It will take time. I think the Government should be able to say: 'This is our overall plan. This is the sort of thing we want to do. We would like to acquire this land today and perhaps that land next week. Next year we will probably acquire that land.' I suspect that in this instance a significant part of the 20,000-odd square miles will not be needed for development in the foreseeable future.

This Government has not yet implemented nor presented a plan which shows what is going to be done in Darwin. For that reason I believe that the whole of this acquisition is arbitrary, is denying the rights of individuals and should be rejected. One thing that the Minister for Urban and Regional Development said - I think that this needs to be noted also - was that the former Minister in charge of the Northern Territory - the former Minister for the Interior, my colleague the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt) - did not present o his Government submissions prepared by his Department. He was prepared to listen to the people of the area. He was prepared to see something of what the people of the Northern Territory were interested in. He was concerned to know what type of impact it would have on their land, on the property they held, on their houses, where they were going and what they were doing. Mr Deputy Speaker, I am sure that you are a man of commiseration. I am sure that you are concerned about the rights of landowners and about the rights of householders. I am sure that if you had been a Minister you would have rejected the submission from the honourable member's

Department if it did not present a complete case for the takeover.

It is important when a government compulsorily acquires land that it knows what it is going to do. It is more important when we have a major problem in the development of our cities to know what we are going to do with that land. I think all of us are horrified by some of the consequences of the urban and suburban sprawl. We are concerned about how city life can be made more meaningful in the future. If the best that the Minister for Urban and Regional Development can do is to come in here and say 'We are going to do the same thing in every city in Australia' then we shall be faced with deplorable circumstances in the future. That is the city plan he is going to present to us. He does not tell us how he is going to do it, what he is going to do or how he will compensate landholders. He says: 'We are going to take them over.' There are the jackboots at work again. He has already said that he does not like freeway development. I think some aspects of freeway development need looking at. But let us accept the fact that the sooner we get an integrated road system which will allow the rapid movement of people and goods around the city with the maximum of safety, the better we will be served.

It is quite arbitrary for this Government to say tonight that the first step in its urban policy is the one it has pursued in Darwin, a policy which obviously will affect very significantly every person - not only those who live in that city as it is today but also people who will live in every city in Australia in the future. I deplore this move. I deplore compulsory acquisition of land. I deplore the denial of discussion and consideration as to where a country, a city or a householder goes. If this Government wants to develop Darwin we would all accept that it needs to acquire more land. But it needs to work out what it is going to do with that land. It needs to be prepared to talk to people. We are beginning to see some reaction against the Government around the traps. We are beginning to see that the Government is not prepared to listen to people. It is just going to go ahead and it does not matter what people want. When the Government makes up its mind it says: 'This is the way we are going to develop Darwin today, Sydney tomorrow and Melbourne the day after. We are not going to listen to the little people. We are not interested in the landholder. We arenot interested in the house holder. We are not interested in the person who is really concerned about the quality of life. All we are going to do is take over the land.'

I think that one thing should be recognised about the development of Darwin. I commend the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) for his assiduous representation of his constituents in this Parliament. One thing that has changed in Darwin is that now people do not just go there to live for a short term. People have not just put their money where their mouths are but have gone there with a heart and a will to develop the whole of that northern part of Australia. They have an interest in the place. They have a motivation. For that reason I hope that there might be something more meaningful than compulsory acquisition in land development in Darwin. I hope that there will be a city plan - a plan to provide parks and gardens and reasonable city amenities for the place. However, people are acquiring land on a freehold title and spending money there. They are going there to live permanently. There is no action more likely to deny the opportunity of a person living there permanently than the knowledge that whatever he spends today on the development of his particular block of land is likely to be taken away tomorrow, and taken away without him being told what he will be paid for it and what is to be done with it. This measure will deny the progressive development of Darwin. I think it is completely deplorable. I commend the honourable member for the Northern Territory for moving this motion. I support it completely and have great pleasure in seconding it.

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