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Tuesday, 4 December 1973
Page: 4212

Mr UREN (Reid) (Minister for Urban and Regional Development) - The matter of public importance proposed for discussion by the Opposition is as negative as the forces that sit behind the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden). The proposal is negative because of the 23 inactive years in which the Opposition parties ruled as the Government. Frankly, all honourable members opposite want to say to any proposal is no. They have no positive proposals of their own. They have not been prepared to put any positive proposals forward. The Government is seeking an alteration to the Constitution for this Parliament to be given authority over prices and incomes.

In the short time available to me I wish to deal with prices and specifically with the price of land. Look at the historical situation of the price of land in the years in which the Opposition parties governed, particularly the years between 1950 and 1970. Although statistics were hard to obtain, I have been able to compile figures from the records of the War Service Homes Division. Let us take an index of 100 for both the price of land and average weekly earnings in that period. In New South Wales, in that period, the price of land rose from an index of 100 to an index of 1,209. Average weekly earnings in the same period rose from an index of 100 to an index of 369. The price of land actually rose 3.25 times faster than average weekly earnings in that period.

I wish now to examine the figures for New South Wales for the period June 1970 to January 1973. I take as an example the price of land in the area of Sydney which is in the most advanced stage of land speculation. An examination of areas of land from inner Sydney to 5 miles from inner Sydney shows that in June 1970 prices for that land ranged between $20,000 a block and $35,000 a block. In January 1973 prices for land in that area ranged between $25,000 a block and $45,000 a block. In June 1970 land in an area 5 miles to 10 miles from the heart of Sydney ranged in cost from $7,000 a block to $20,000 a block. In January 1973 the price per block had risen to between $15,000 and $35,000. In the area from 10 miles to 15 miles from the centre of the city of Sydney the price of a block of land in June 1970 was between $6,000 and $15,000. In January 1973 the price of a block of land in that area ranged between $12,000 and $30,000. What happened in the areas on the outskirts of the cities - areas such as that represented by the honourable member for Parramatta (Mr Ruddock)? In June 1970 the price of land 15 miles and beyond ranged from $3,500 to $7,000 a block. In January 1973 the price had risen and ranged from $9,000 to $15,000 a block.

Between September 1970 and January 1973 the price of land within 5 miles of the centre of Sydney had risen by 25 per cent; between 5 and 10 miles by 114 per cent, between 10 and 15 miles by 100 per cent and for land on the fringes of the city it had increased by 157 per cent. This is the spiralling cost of land. During the period from September 1970 to March 1973 the consumer price index rose by only 18 per cent, the wholesale price of building materials rose by 21 per cent and the average weekly earnings by 29 per cent. But land on the fringes of Sydney increased by 157 per cent. What we are asking the people to do is to vote Yes next Saturday. What would it mean if they did? It would mean that this Parliament would have the authority to pass legislation that would empower me as the Minister for Urban and Regional Development, in consultation with the State Ministers to determine an area of future growth and development and to stabilise land prices in those areas. This would not be new. I instance the situation at AlburyWodonga, where an agreement was made that when the Government made an investment in the area it would stabilise land prices as at 3 October 1972. There has been a formula to cover any further increase, but only a normal rational increase, not a 157 per cent increase within a couple of years. Wherever growth occurs, land speculators move in. What we are seeking to do is to have the authority to stabilise land prices.

When some of the progressive State Ministers with whom we may enter into agreements go back to their State Cabinets to get the authority to stabilise land prices, the conservative elements refuse to grant such an authority covering a given area. -Albury and Wodonga have had land prices stabilised. This has been done in agreement with Victoria and New South Wales. Apart from that area it has not been done. We seek to stabilise land prices. Stabilising land prices is not freezing land prices. All it means is that we will stabilise the price at a given time, after which there will be normal increases in price. The formula has already been worked out by the Victorian and New South Wales governments, but they did not go beyond the limited areas of Albury and Wodonga.

When we develop land in the fringe areas, why should the greedy land speculators whom the Opposition members represent be allowed to make fortunes out of land. The land tenure report tabled today was compiled by a Supreme Court Judge from New South Wales, a private developer of some standing, Mr Dusseldorf, of Lend Lease Corporation Ltd, and Professor Russell Mathews, of the Australian National University. These gentlemen exposed the land exploitation of a few people against many, and I cannot understand a young person like the honourable member for Parramatta, who should have the interests of young people at heart, condoning the actions of the conservative forces he supports. What did the New South Wales Government do? It auctioned 26 blocks of land for $lm. What was the reserve price of one of the blocks of land? It was $34,000, and it sold for $50,000. How many young people could afford to pay such a price?

The Government has a positive proposal. We have 2 ways of dealing with the problem. Firstly, there is the question of growth centres, of which we have already nominated AlburyWodonga. We have proposed other areas such as Bathurst-Orange, Wyong-Gosford and, of course, the Campbelltown corridor and Geelong in Victoria. What we are seeking to do is to stabilise land prices in those areas, to acquire the land, and to develop it under a public authority. The land will be developed on the basis set out in the principles of the Land Tenure Act. Regarding residential land, we will consider the recommendation of the Commission of Inquiry into Land Tenures. These recommendations would allow residential land to be held on freehold basis, except that the Government would retain the development rights. Commercial and industrial land would remain leasehold.

These are the powers we are asking the people to give us. If they vote Yes on Saturday, we may be able to bring some rational development to our country and be able to make land available at a reasonable price to young people in the future. At present the cost of buying land and building a home is almost out of the reach of most people, particularly on the western fringes of the city. Young people are paying $12,000 for land 25 miles west of Sydney. This must stop. We cannot afford to allow land to rise 3i times faster than the average weekly earnings have risen. We must stabilise land prices. We ;an do that if the people vote Yes and give this Parliament the authority to control land prices.

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