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Tuesday, 20 November 1973
Page: 3534

Mr SPEAKER -I think the honourable member for Paterson put his foot inside the curtain. Will you retrieve him, please. (Quorum formed)

Mr UREN - The second may be called system cities. These are intended as substantially self-contained cities on the fringes of existing metropolitan areas. In formulating its policies on new cities, the Government has had the benefit of the recommendations of the Cities Commission. The basis of these recommendations is set out in the Commission's first 5-year report which I tabled in this House on 25 October 1973.

It is fitting that the first Bill concerned with the new cities program to be introduced into this House should be the AlburyWodonga Development Bill. This is not because the development of Albury-Wodonga as a regional growth centre will be the major component of the Government's urban and regional policy. Rather, it is because this operation has been the first time when the major principles of the new cities policy have been worked out. One of the most important of these principles has been co-operative federalism and I will be referring to this in a moment.

Honourable members will know that it was the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) who first proposed the accelerated development of Albury-Wodonga. As long ago as August 1969, Mr Whitlam, then the Leader of the Opposition, said that Albury-Wodonga would be suitable for new urban development. This proposal was part of the policies which we presented to the people before the recent election.

Since 2 December last year, events have moved quickly. On 25 January, the Prime Minister and the Premiers of New South Wales and Victoria met at Albury and announced their intention to jointly develop Albury-Wodonga as a growth centre. The Premiers stated on this occasion that the willingness, for the first time, of the Australian Government to make available significant financial aid for this development provided the means for action.

On 25 January, the three heads of government agreed that Albury-Wodonga would be developed into a major city which will attract large numbers of Australians, which will attract industry, which will control pollution and protect the environment, and in which every attempt will be made to preserve the identity and character of the existing cities. This development was to be the task of a specially created statutory authority. On 23 October, the Prime Minister and the Premiers met again, this time in Wodonga, to sign the agreement which forms the Schedule of the new Albury-Wodonga Development Bill. The nature of this Agreement and the whole course of events since 25 January are an example of co-operative federalism at work. Differences of approach will inevitably arise when 3 governments approach a joint task, but the important thing is that a spirit of goodwill and a will to co-operate should guide the governments. That spirit and that will have guided us. This Bill represents our achievement.

Honourable members have before them an Australian Government Bill and, appended to it, an Agreement between the 3 governments. Complementary Bills, with the same Agreement appended, will be introduced into the New South Wales and Victorian parliaments in the near future. Hopefully by the end of this year, a development corporation will be established by the 3 governments. The task of this corporation will be to plan and organise the development of the growth centre.

The present Bill is concerned, therefore, with the steps required by the Australian Government to establish the organisational structure of the Albury-Wodonga growth centre and the legal framework within which this will operate. The structure appears complex. Such complexity is the result of the constitutional relationship between the 3 governments concerned and the role that each government has agreed to play. In essence, the arrangement provides for each government to continue its normal functions in Albury-Wodonga.

Over and above this, the Australian Government will make a major financial contribution towards the cost of land acquisition and the development of infrastructure which arise directly from the decision to stimulate accelerated growth. The development structure provides for a Ministerial Council of the 3 governments to oversight development. A statutory authority will carry out that development. This authority will comprise a Development Corporation established by the Australian Government and a State corporation established by each State government. The functions of the Development Corporation, conferred on it by the Federal and State governments, will include urban and regional planning and development, construction in designated areas, growth centre promotion, negotiation with Federal, State and local government agencies, the protection of the environment and the involvement of the local community in the planning process.

The functions of the New South Wales and Victorian corporations will be the acquisition, holding, management and provision of land, the provision of municipal type services and the levying of charges in new urban areas. The membership and staff will be common to the 3 corporations. We are confident that this apparently complex arrangement will not adversely affect the working of the development machinery. Not only will the membership and staff be common to the 3 corporations and therefore work as one, but also the task of the corporations working as one will be clearly defined. They will be responsible to the one body, namely, the ministerial council. The development structure also includes two other important provisions. The first is a consultative council to ensure public participation. On this consultative council will be representatives of local government and other community interests. The functions of the council will be to advise the Development Corporation on matters of concern to the local community. The second provision is for strong and continuing links between the Development Corporation structure and the existing agencies of the Australian and State governments.

The Bill and the agreement arise from detailed discussions between the 3 governments at which a range of important principles and policies have been arrived at. Those concerned with the structure of the development organisation are included in this Bill and agreement. An understanding has been reached between the 3 governments on the principles and policies which will govern the implementation of the agreement and the operation of the development organisation. The most important of these are:

(1)   The general financial arrangements provide for each government to continue to provide funds for facilities and services which it ordinarily provided to the population of Albury and Wodonga.

(2)   In addition, the Australian Government will make special funds available to the States for on-payment to the appropriate corporation for:

(a)   land acquisition;

(b)   land development, including headworks;

(c)   municipal type facilities; and

(d)   selected building works.

The funds to be made available each year by the Australian Government will be in accordance with an agreed development plan.

(3)   Funds made available for land acquisition will be either loan funds or non-repayable grants on a matching basis under conditions which will be set out in the Albury-Wodonga Appropriation Bill which I hope to introduce next week. Funds to be made available to the Development Corporation for land development and selected building works will normally be loan funds. Provision is made for current practices to be observed in fixing the terms of the loans and for payment of interest to be deferred in some cases. Funds to be provided for municipal type services will take account of existing State practices and sources of funds normally available to local government authorities.

(4)   In addition, during the early years of the development, the Australian Government will be prepared to provide special financial assistance to the States to assist them in providing facilities which are normally their responsibility but which could not be provided without such special assistance. We have made this offer because we accept that it might not be practicable for the States during the next few years to take special measures at AlburyWodonga without affecting existing State-wide priorities. The 3 governments have agreed, however, that after this transition period each will provide from its normal sources the services and facilities it would ordinarily provide to the population of Albury-Wodonga.

(5)   The administrative expenses of the Development Corporation will be shared equally by the 3 governments.

6)   As agreed on 25 January and 23 October, the Development Corporation will follow a policy of providing fully serviced sites for development on a long term leasehold tenure unless there are exceptional circumstances. In the case of residential land, the form of land tenure will be decided by the 3 governments in the light of the report of the Commission of Inquiry into Land Tenures.

(7)   The price of land to be acquired under the terms of appropriate State land price stabilisation legislation will be based on the market level of prices prevailing at 3 October 1972. Adjustments will be made for land price changes - due to factors other than the announcement of the development of the complex - during the period up to the date of actual purchase. Land to be acquired under these conditions is to be designated not later than 30 June 1974. In the timing of acquisition deference will be paid to any special cases of individual hardship which may occur. All 3 governments have agreed that land price stabilisation is essential for the success of the growth centre. Without a supply of raw land at prices uninflated by speculative action - which is what is happening in Sydney and Melbourne - neither industry nor people will be prepared to move to the growth centre.

(8)   As a first step, the Development Corporation will, with the assistance of the private sector, become a developer within the existing municipal boundaries of the cities of Albury and Wodonga. The development will be on lands which are outside land within the city of Albury, which are presently zoned urban, or lands to be zoned urban in the recently exhibited interim development order. Likewise, the Development Corporation will become a developer of lands within the defined urban boundaries of the city of Wodonga but which are outside those lands for which all planning consents required for urban sub-division have been granted. All lands in those areas within which the Development Corporation will become a developer, and which will need to be rezoned urban for purposes of the growth complex, will be publicly acquired.

(9)   In the development of the new growth complex, special attention will be given to control of pollution, including effluent disposal. Special attention will also be given to protection of the environment, not only of the centre itself, but also of areas which will be affected by the establishment of this new growth complex.

(10)   In the planning of the new growth complex, every attempt is to be made to preserve the identity, character and vitality of the historic centres of Albury and Wodonga.

I turn now to the Bill itself. Honourable members will note that in Part III the Bill establishes the Albury-Wodonga Development Corporation as a body corporate and with the usual powers of such a body corporate. Clause 8 of Part III of the Bill sets out the functions and powers of the Corporation. It will be noted that clause 8 (1) sets out those functions of the Corporation which will be conferred on it by the Australian Government. The States have agreed that in their legislation they will confer such State powers on the Corporation as are necessary for that Corporation to carry out the planning and development tasks which have been entrusted to the Corporation by the 3 governments. Sub-clauses (3) and (4) of clause 8 provide for this.

Part (IV) of the Bill deals with the constitution and meetings of the Corporation. The Corporation will consist of 5 members. A Chairman will be appointed for a term not exceeding 7 years. Two Deputy Chairmen will be appointed for a period not exceeding 5 years. Two other members shall be part-time and appointed for a term not exceeding 3 years. The Chairman will be appointed on the nomination of the Australian Government. Each of the State governments will nominate one of the Deputy Chairmen. The 2 part-time members of the Corporation will be appointed on the recommendation of the Ministerial Council with a view to ensuring the representation of local interests on the Development Corporation. The provisions relating to appointment, termination of appointment, disclosure of interest, and acting appointments are in keeping with those of other Commonwealth statutory corporations.

Part (V) of the Bill refers to the powers of the Corporation to appoint staff. These provisions are once again similar to those of other Commonwealth statutory authorities with the specific understanding that the employment by the Corporation of officers of States will be facilitated as far as possible. Part (VI) of the

Bill sets out the provisions with regard to finance. The Agreement sets out in more detail the form of physical and financial programming which will constitute the basis of the annual financial estimates of the Development Corporation. This programming procedure is very important. I refer honourable members to Part (III) of the Agreement. The Corporation will be empowered to borrow money from the State or other approved lenders. Part (VII) of the Bill includes the requirement that the Corporation shall report annually and that it shall meet the audit requirements of the Auditor-General. It will be noted that this section of the Bill also provides that the GovernorGeneral may make regulations for carrying out or giving effect to this Act.

I turn now to the Agreement scheduled to this Bill. As the preamble makes clear, this Agreement springs from the intentions of the 3 governments that a Development Corporation will bring about in Albury-Wodonga a city with a high quality of environment, appropriately planned and developed, with full regard to human requirements and the involvement of the public. Furthermore, in its operation the Corporation will involve, as far as possible, the established Australian, State and local government authorities in the development of the growth complex. Honourable members have received an explanatory memorandum of the agreement which is scheduled in this Bill.

In concluding I take the opportunity of thanking my colleagues on the Ministerial Council - Mr Murray Byrne, the Victorian Minister for State Development and Decentralisation, and Mr John Fuller, the New South Wales Minister for Decentralisation and Development. Their willingness to work hard, to co-operate and to compromise has been a very pleasing feature of this whole operation. Not only that, but they have encouraged their officers in the respective State departments to work hard and some times under great pressure in order to achieve this program. I take the opportunity of commending and thanking rr;y own officers in the Cities Commission and in my own Department, and officers of other Australian Government departments, particularly Attorney-General's Department and the Treasury, for their continuing efforts over the past 10 months.

I would be the first to recognise that the total concept of what we are setting out to do in Albury-Wodonga is a difficult one to grasp. It is a new concept. One of the most rewarding features of the Albury-Wodonga Agreement is that in a very short space of time we in the Australian Government have been able to develop and explain this new concept to State politicians and administrators. With the understanding that they have acquired we have been able to formulate this Agreement. Let there be no mistake about this. It is an historic Agreement. Moreover, we have reached the Agreement with a high level of enthusiasm. I commend the approach of the State politicians in New South Wales and Victoria and their administrators to honourable members opposite. We have not tried to force concepts on to the States; we set out to persuade them of the validity of our case. Once they understood it, I believe they welcomed it. May I say it was a warm welcome. I believe that the understanding that we have reached amongst 3 levels of government on the principles to be applied to this growth centre provides us with a basic approach to the other areas this Government will want to develop in co-operation with these and other States. Indeed, at a ministerial meeting with representatives from all States last month, we were all able to reach accord on the same principles. I will be speaking about the principles underlying our approach to growth centres and bur approach to land commissions when I introduce further Bills into the House tomorrow.

There is no doubt in my mind that with the goodwill and enthusiasm of State and local governments we can formulate and implement policies in urban and regional development which will be of great benefit to all the people of our nation. The tasks ahead of us are enormous. But in 10 months we have been able to achieve a great deal. Albury-Wodonga is only the beginning. It is a first step in a continuing program of involvement by the Australian Government in our cities, old and new. Sydney and Melbourne are suffering from all the ills of overcrowding, mismanagement, neglect and haphazard planning which the previous Federal Government ignored or tacitly accepted. For 23 years those now on the Opposition side of the House not only allowed the present ills of Sydney and Melbourne to accumulate; they postively added to them by their unco-ordinated and shortsighted approach to urban development.

This Government cannot solve the problems of 23 years overnight. These are still early days in the life of this Government. Yet our achievements in the fields of urban and regional development so far show our determination, not just to overcome past mistakes, but to create new opportunities for Australians to live in urban areas that are comprehensively and attractively planned. There can be no doubt that this Government has done far more to create new cities than the previous Government even thought of doing during its 23 years in office. Under its administration, the population of the non-urban areas in Australia declined from 31 per cent to 14.7 per per cent of Australia's total population. This Albury-Wodonga Bill and Agreement symbolise an important first step. I am confident that our future initiatives will be welcomed by the people in our cities and regions. I commend the Bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr Edwards) adjourned.

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