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Tuesday, 16 May 1972
Page: 1675

Senator LAWRIE (QUEENSLAND) - Prior to the suspension of the sitting I had said that the amount provided in the Bill will be a big help to Queensland. In his second reading speech the Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) said:

The main purpose of this Bill is to authorise the payment of a special advance grant of $9m to Queensland in 1971-72.

He also said:

Clause 4, it might be noted, authorises the Treasurer to make payments to Queensland in the first 6 months of 1972-73 up to a maximum of $4. 5m, which is half the grant payable this year. The purpose of this clause is to enable monthly payments to be made in the early months of 1972-73, in accordance with normal practice, against any special grant which might be recommended by the Commission, and approved by Parliament, for payments to Queensland in that year.

My colleague Senator McAuliffe recited a lot of that he called failings in the Commonwealth Grants Commission's report, but he did not mention any of the things that the Government has done to develop Queensland in recent years. New ports have been established at Weipa and Hay Point. Weipa is a bauxite port; Hay Point is a coal port. In that time new railways have been built to haul coal. According to the latest report, the largest coal trains ever used have been used on the Goonyella to Hay Point line to increase the output of the Mines at Goonyella. A spur line to a new coalfield has just about been completed. This new coalfield will be able to export 9 million tons of coal a year, we are told. New towns have been developed at Moura, Goonyella, Blackwater and Weipa, to mention a few. This has meant a big development in areas where previously there were no towns of any size. Considerable progress has been made in providing services to those towns. No mention has been made in this debate of the tremendous development of bitumen roads in Queensland although it was referred to in the submission to the Commonwealth Grants Commission. Queensland, because of its huge area, needs many miles of bitumen ro ' along which not too many towns have been settled, and this takes a lot of money. The Queensland Government has acted to develop the State and although the grant to be authorised by this Bill is small, it will help to continue that development.

No reference has been made to 2 very big water schemes being developed. The scheme at Emerald is now so far advanced that the first water is to be released there next Monday. Construction of a big dam has started at Bundaberg to consolidate irrigation works there and to ensure that sugar cane farms in the area do not suffer from periodic droughts. In this debate no honourable senator has referred to the development of the brigalow area or of the plans to have Queensland served by 2 electricity grids. It will not be long before those 2 grids are interconnected to the far west of Queensland and electricity lines will run from the New South Wales border to Cooktown. That will be a major achievement.

A super power house is under construction at Gladstone and others are planned. All this development in Queensland must be assisted by grants from the Commonwealth. A new arterial road system is being developed for Brisbane. A tremendous amount of money is being spent there to ease traffic problems and to help to speed up the traffic flow. Progress has also been made in education. Tremendous development has taken place in providing new high schools in recent years. Relief has been extended to farmers, graziers and townspeople in the drought areas. This has cost the Queensland Government a considerable amount of money.

I want to refer also to the free hospital system in Queensland, one of the achievements of a Queensland Labor Government for which I give credit to Senator Gair. We have continued the free hospital scheme. I understand that it was one factor that made it very difficult in the past for Queensland to be a claimant State. As I said earlier, I believe that Queensland is entitled to a special grant as in that State substantial profits are earned for companies in the southern States. Although those profits are made in Queensland, they are credited to southern Stale companies. I confidently believe that the present Queensland Government will continue in office for a long while yet for the benefit of that State. T hope that this grant will be the start of considerably more Commonwealth help in the future. I commend the Bill to the Senate.

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