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Tuesday, 20 November 1973
Page: 3543

Mr LAMB (La Trobe) - It should be obvious to all honourable members why the new Labor Government has combined the areas of tourism and recreation in one single portfolio. It is the first Federal Government to recognise fully the importance of tourism and recreation as 2 interlocking areas of increasing national responsibility. A growing problem facing Australia and all comparable western industralised countries is the good use of leisure. It is a problem of urban societies. As Australia is the most urbanised nation in the world it is a more pressing problem for us than for any other nation. I congratulate the Minister for Tourism and Recreation (Mr Stewart) for his wholehearted acceptance of the challenge that this problem presents.

If the public's money is to be spent wisely and not indiscriminately there must be planning based on thorough research of the state of tourism and recreation. In the first session of this Parliament the Minister presented a report entitled 'The Role, Scope and Development of Recreation in Australia' which was prepared by Professor John Bloomfield of the University of Western Australia. That report set out the general principles which we have adopted for a national recreation program involving not just a few groups in isolated recreational pursuits but the whole of our society. It is not a fixed plan but the basis of a flexible blueprint to be modified, improved and updated by the involved community as factors affecting leisure time change. Man's physical and mental capacities are not oppos ing but complementary factors. That they are complementary factors is summed up by the adage 'all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy'.

In the largely sedentary working life of the average Australian worker ever increasing demands are made on the mind while physical capacities become atrophied. It has been estimated that by the year 2,000, when working hours give way to leisure time to an increasing degree, people may have 3 or even 4 days to spend on recreational and educational pursuits. With this certain increase in leisure time and with the equally strong desire of man to escape, however temporarily, from a highly industrialised and urbanised routine existence it is our responsibility to recognise, for the first time in the history of Australia, that recreation, sport and travel should constitute an integral part of our life. This report and another I will mention indicate the high degree of recognition this Government has afforded to the problem. It should not be necessary to sharply divide work from leisure or to concentrate leisure into extended weekends or annual holidays. Leisure should be more accessible than that if our resources are to be available to as many as wish to use them and concentrated over-use is not to diminish their utility. The Minister has recognised this. The Government will establish a series of community centres to cater for the young and the old and will design large multi-purpose centres at schools for use by the students and the local community to satisfy the need for cultural, sporting, recreational and artistic activities. This approach will avoid unnecessary duplication of expensive facilities and at the same time will help to break down the barrier that artificially yet effectively divides schools from the general community.

Success will depend upon the co-operation and initiative of State and local governments. In Victoria the Minister for Sport and Recreation has indicated his support for the concept of community-shared facilities at schools. Preference has been given in the recreation grants flowing from the 1973-74 Budget to projects which involve State or local government funds. In my own electorate of La Trobe, $53,500 has been granted for an indoor family leisure centre at Carrington Park in the city of Knox and $46,250 for a sporting context at Kilsyth.

On the third day of the current session of Parliament, the Minister for Tourism and

Recreation tabled his report entitled 'Development of Tourism in Australia'. This report was prepared by the Department with the advice of the Australian Tourist Commission, the Australian National Travel Association and other interested bodies. It is not a bureaucratic document implemented from above. It demonstrates the Government's concern at the role of tourism in the life of Australians as well as as an earner of income from overseas visitors. As leisure time increases, we will need to encourage and provide for travel in Australia of ordinary, average Australians to see and learn more about this country and to enjoy and enrich their increasing leisure time. To make this possible, the Government will make grants, loans, tax concessions and other inducements to ensure that Australian cities and tourist centres are provided with accommodation and amenities of international standard. Australia has much to offer the traveller - snow fields, surfing, fishing, the hot, arid yet life-abundant centre, and countless geographic and scenic wonders.

Not all of these are far flung places. Some of our greatest assets are close to major cities. I wish to talk about the large forests and national parks that are in close proximity to urban dwellers and are readily accessible to them. These large recreation and tourist areas such as the Dandenong Ranges and the Mornington Peninsula to the south east of Melbourne may however not be available to future residents. They are a rapidly diminishing asset and steps should be taken now to see that they are preserved. The threats to these tourist and recreation areas are overurbanisation, over-utilisation and underdevelopment - a seemingly paradoxical amalgam but in fact a very interrelated one. These threats have been measured by the Department of Tourism and Recreation and by the Department of Urban and Regional Development. The report on tourism examines the place of tourism in Australia in relation to individual demands, community values and our national identity and, most importantly, its relationship to the environment.

As detailed studies of the demand for different types of recreation activity, including tourism, have not been carried out in Australia, future projections on data developed in the United States of America can give us a guide. We can expect in America at least a fivefold increase in total outdoor recreation by the year 2000. The pattern of demand for these resources will change with increasing affluence and general awareness of the environment. Applying these growth rates to the large recreation areas close to Melbourne, we can expect a fifteen-fold increase in the use of the Dandenong Ranges, the Mornington Peninsula and the Eildon Weir at the end of 30 years, everything else being equal in regard to access and availability of these natural resources. The Department will need to assist tourist attractions that harmonise with these areas. Development should be concentrated on such projects as pioneer settlements, the preservation of historical sites and buildings, fauna sanctuaries and amenities at national parks. The Budget allocated $ 1.75m in 1973-74 to expand a scheme of grants for the development of uniquely Australian tourist attractions. The Dandenong Ranges, the Mornington Peninsula, the Healesville-Warburton shires and the Alexandra district abound in examples that merit Federal Government assistance.

Strict town planning and regional development is necessary to prevent over-urbanisation from killing the very resources that make these areas great tourist attractions. These areas will be greatly affected by the south east and Lilydale corridors of growth set out in the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works plan for Melbourne's future expansion. For example industry, apart from horticulture, agriculture, forestry and water resource management, should be kept out of the Dandenong Ranges or the beauty of this area will be greatly harmed. Projects qualifying for assistance might include museums, art galleries and theatres with a special Australian character and sanctuaries or parks featuring Australian wildlife or native flora. These projects harmonise with the village atmosphere that is unique to the Blue Mountains and the Dandenong Ranges.

The greatest asset of these areas is that urban dwellers do not need to travel far to enjoy them. But careful management of parks and other tourist attractions will be necessary to prevent over-utilisation or destruction. I believe the report of the Ayers RockMount Olga National Park tabled by the Standing Committee on Environment and Conservation of this House carries many lessons for the management of these areas close to Melbourne. I congratulate the Minister for making it a condition for grants that the environmental impact of the project must be considered in formulating proposals for assistance and, if the impact is likely to be significant, demanding that an environmental impact statement be prepared. I congratulate the Minister for his work which makes, despite inadequate funds, an important contribution to the nation's economic and social wellbeing through the more enjoyable use of our everincreasing leisure time.

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