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Tuesday, 20 November 1973
Page: 3560

Mr UREN (Reid) (Minister for Urban and Regional Development) - Honourable members will have to be patient with me because I do not have sufficient time in which to reply to all of their comments. I have about 7 minutes in which to speak. In the next 10 days we will be debating in this House in full detail the proposed AlburyWodonga Development Corporation and the appropriation for the Albury-Wodonga Development Corporation. We also will be discussing a lands commission Bill and the allocation of money for the new cities or growth centres.

The expenditure before the Committee is for the Department of Urban and Regional Development, the Cities Commission and the National Capital Development Commission. The National Capital Development Commission is a well established body. It was established by the previous Government in the late 1950s and it has done a remarkable job in the development of Canberra. It has made mistakes and it is not been without criticism. It is something which was set up as an example. In Opposition I always used to say to the then Government: 'If it can be done in Canberra why can it not be done elsewhere?' There seemed to be a refusal by the then Government to accept my proposition. The Labor Government has been the only Government to take action to try to duplicate the work that has been carried out in Canberra.

Something happened at the last election. Frankly it is appalling to think that those who now sit on the Opposition benches are dumb during question time about the problems which confront them. Nobody opposite is asking questions without notice about those problems of urban and regional development. Eighty-five per cent of the people of Australia live in urban areas. The last election was determined in 2 cities. Something happened in them to bring about the change. One of those cities is Sydney. The outcome of the last election in Sydney was determined in the electorates of Phillip, Cook, Evans, Mitchell and Macarthur which includes the urban area of Campbelltown. In Melbourne, the decision for a change was made in the electorates of La Trobe, Diamond Valley, Casey and Holt. The change occurred in those 2 cities and yet the Opposition just sits dumb. It does not ask questions. It has no real policy as an alternative proposal on urban affairs, and that mystifies me.

What really happened was that there was an over-centralisation of population in both Sydney and Melbourne and growth problems occurred with land, housing, sewerage, roads, urban public transport, the provision of new urban areas and, of course, the neglect of the national estate. The honourable member for Parramatta (Mr Ruddock) spoke tonight about the national estate. For the 23 years that his party was in office, not one penny was offered to preserve the oldest building in Australia, the Elizabeth Farm cottage which was built in 1793 and which is in his electorate. Yet we this year have allocated $2. 5m for the restoration and enhancement of our national estate. We are already making an allocation of funds. The fact is that there has been over-centralisation and those people in the rural areas who talk about decentralisation now have allies in the city because the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and I are advocates against the over-centralisation of population in our major cities, particularly Sydney and Melbourne. It is for this reason that we believe we must start to create new centres.

This is why the Cities Commission has set up 12 new development areas throughout Australia and why in the first 10 months of office we have been able to achieve an agreement on the historic development of the Albury-Wodonga area. We believe that we must make our cities rational places in which to live and that areas like the central business districts of Melbourne and Sydney cannot go on as they are. We cannot continue with this megalomania of trying to over-centralise the cities. We must balance these metropolises. We have to make sure that the cities of Melbourne and Sydney become rational places in which to live and at the same time we believe we must establish new growth centres in other parts of the country.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

Progress reported.

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