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Thursday, 25 October 1973
Page: 2692

Mr HEWSON (McMillan) - Without the expertise of the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) but also with a grievance, I rise to bring to the notice of this House my concern at the procrastination taking place and the lack of response to the many important matters and requests I have raised on behalf of my electors. This Government came to power nearly 12 months ago with all the enthusiasm and glory of newfound power and boasting of what we could expect in the years ahead. Optimism was so high that Government supporters even talked about what they would do as a government after the next election. They having now settled down to the realities of life and having learned the arduous responsibilities of government, we do not hear them any longer talking about what they will do as a future government; instead we see them retreating to their foxholes and sniping at the members of the Opposition with snide remarks about election funds being collected to get them out of office, as they say. At the first fair dinkum challenge by the Australian Country Party to go to the electors, Government supporters scuttled for cover and have been whimpering about it ever since.

I want to know when we can really expect some action by some of the more romantic Ministers. I have yet to see any tangible evidence of any decisions by several Ministers who have been requested by responsible people in my electorate to carry out the lavish pre-election promises. Let me quote some of the concerns I have in order to illustrate to this Parliament how insincere those Ministers are. Let me take the deceitful boast of the Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby). He thought that he would be the Minister for Primary Industry; so he quite unabashedly promised the primary producers of Australia $500m in long term finance at 3 per cent per annum interest. I have not seen any of it yet, and interest rates have gone up, not down.

The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and all his henchmen made great play to the electorate and local municipalities by saying that there would be direct grants to local government. What a . marvellous thought! But what has happened? On behalf of many municipalities in my electorate I have made numerous requests to the Prime Minister; but, being the good fencer that he is, he has directed the grants under the Grants Commission through various other Ministers. The Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) cannot move until he has his regions all worked out; the Minister for the Environment and Conservation (Dr Cass) is tying up any decisions he may make with the Minister for Urban and Regional Development; and so it goes on.

But there is one Minister who does things in his own way, unhindered and probably aided and abetted by other Ministers in a more subtle way. The Minister to whom I refer is the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) who has taken all the minerals with all the energy he can muster and decided to nationalise them. He showed great strength and energy in trying to belittle my efforts to get on with the job of producing oil from brown coal. I will not repeat to this House how importantly I view the need to do just that. I have yet to hear whether the Minister has taken any action to carry out the terms of my motion which was passed by this House. Perhaps he is too busy laying traps to catch other unsuspecting mineral enterprise companies. Even the Treasurer (Mr Crean) has not been able to assist my local shire to secure a very appropriate industry. All Ministers are duckshoving their responsibilities.

Many of the proposals of the Government are very commendable. One in particular is in the field of environment and conservation. But it appals me to see the procrastination in this area. State governments have at last placed great emphasis on this field and are awaiting th support of the Federal Government to help them get on with the job. One area which has been proclaimed as suitable for a national park is the Mount Worth area in the Strzelecki Ranges which has everything to commend it economically, environmentally and conservationally. If the Minister can at least assure me that he will give this project his immediate and earnest consideration, I can assure him that he would retrieve some of the image which he has lost by his procrastination. The property owners who are suffering a financial handicap by the interim development order would appreciate his immediate action. The shire councils involved are embarrassed by the present situation in which their ratepayers find themselves. No one knows when action is to be taken and therefore the proposed sale of the properties is devalued or Sales cannot be made.

This area of country requires constant attention, otherwise it reverts back to its natural foliage. This again lowers the value of the land and therefore it creates great potential for a national park. In the interests of the people who own this country and who are dependent on receiving a reasonable acquisition price I request that some action be taken urgently and that an immediate decision be made one way or the other. It is totally unfair to starve these people out, but this is what will happen if positive action is not taken now. Not only am I promoting the plight of the resident, but I am also hoping to preserve one of our most natural beauty areas in Gippsland. The scenic views from the tourist point of view offer great attraction. Add to that the conservation of the most magnificent flora and fauna.

This area is another marvel of nature. It is within pleasant driving distance from the metropolis and for that reason it should demand the support of the Minister for the Environment and Conservation (Dr Cass) whose constituents would be among the tourists who would benefit. As I said, priorities must be established, economics effected and immediate action taken. If it is taken much of the beautiful timber will be saved from being ravaged. A feasibility study has been made. It is supported by our field naturalists and our conservationists and the property owners. Many said that they would co-operate - some of them were very reluctant because of their love to be up among the scenic beauty where they have made their homes. These are the people of whom we must think. They will have to be re-established. If the Government starves them out by procrastination, then I will be forced to highlight this indictment of the Government. I appeal to the Minister to give this matter his earnest attention and to show his sincerity in his portfolio.

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