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Wednesday, 12 December 1973
Page: 2719

Senator CAVANAGH (South AustraliaMinister for Aboriginal Affairs) - in reply- I take it that everyone who wishes to debate these Bills has had an opportunity to do so, as I am closing the second reading debate. Four Bills are being debated cognately. The question which will be put is that the Bills be now read a second time, rather than that the Bill be now read a second time. I think that there is an agreement that the 4 Bills will be taken together in the Committee stage. Possibly, with the controversial points which were raised today, everyone has forgotten the points which were raised yesterday. The early contributors to the debate raised various points about which they were concerned. They were relying on my reply to clear up the points. Those speakers were followed by certain speakers who feel the urge to speak on every matter and who do not contribute anything to the debate. Lake Pedder, Galston, socialist attitudes and rents of $40 and $50 a week were brought into the debate.

I think that the interesting contribution to the debate was the contribution made by Senator Kane. He pointed out the need for decentralisationto get people out of the cities. He had a solution. He suggested that some method of taxation allowance for people in certain areas would shift people from one area to another. Whether this suggestion is right does not have much to do with the legislation, but it shows an appreciation of what is required to assist in decentralisation. I do not know whether it is the method by which we can get people to shift from one area to another, but the Bills propose to make the residences and the community services available to people who transfer from one area to another. If I did not know Senator Wright better, I would have been surprised at his completely overlooking the purpose of the Bills and at his wanting to give priority to matters such as airports, shipping, the Adelaide to Darwin road and the protection of Ayers Rock rather than to the settling of communities in localities other than large cities.

One of the things which we have to remember is that the Australian Labor Party promised that it would do something about overcrowded cities, and the election was won in the outer areas of Sydney and Melbourne, where people were quite concerned about the position and voted accordingly so that they could get something done about the matter. The Government quickly set up the Department of Urban and Regional Development and commenced a program which would put into operation its policy on decentralisation or the formation of new cities. The problem which arises is that the Commonwealth has no power other than the power it has in respect of people whom it has a constitutional right to look after. It cannot buy land in one of the States and establish a city. Therefore, we required complete agreement with the States before any city could be established. Fortunately, we have this agreement. Both New South Wales and Victoria are in complete agreement about Albury-Wodonga. The State governments have utilised their powers to acquire the land, to fix prices and to deal with other questions associated with the acquisition of the land. All this will be done by State legislation. The Commonwealth finances the project under the agreement which it has made for the development of cities. There has been approval by the States to the establishment of growth centres. Whether they are at AlburyWodonga, Bathurst-Orange or Monarto, there is agreement with the States, and State power is used to do everything necessary to establish the project.

I think that the questions which were raised were: Is there enough protection of the water for South Australia? Are we neglecting local government in this question? Are we eliminating private enterprise? Are we giving a fair price for land that is to be acquired? This legislation is not only in accordance with the views of my Party. The principle of this legislation was accepted by the previous Government. On 19 September 1972 the then Prime Minister, Mr McMahon, stated in the other place when making a ministerial statement on urban and regional development: it will be to guard against the cost of development of the selected centres being inflated by increases in land values directly attributable to the policy initiatives of the States and the Commonwealth.

In keeping with this principle, the 3 Governments agreed on 25 January this year that land acquired for the Albury-Wodonga growth complex will be acquired under the terms of the appropriate State land price stabilisation legislation based on the market level of prices at 3 October 1972. It is provided in the New South Wales legislation that compensation to those whose land is acquired shall be prescribed as being the value as at 3 October 1972 adjusted by a calculated percentage variation. Such percentage would be calculated by the Valuer-General as the average variation up to the date of the acquisition of the value of lands similarly zoned and similarly situated in other parts of the State exclusive of areas announced as growth centres. Such compensation principle is to be based upon the respective announcement dates of each growth centre, being 3 October 1972 for Albury-Wodonga, Bathurst-Orange, Campbelltown-Appin and Gosford-Wyong.

The compensation in the Victorian legislation is similar in principle but the variation since 3 October 1 972 is arrived at by the Valuer-General from an index calculated on prices for similar types of land in other parts of that State. Any increase in the value of land since 3 October, except that which is attributable to the announcement of intention to acquire for a growth centre, will be taken into account. Land to be acquired for the purpose of the growth complex is to be designated not later than 30 June 1974. The purpose of this is to give a fair price for the land. The price of the land will be based on present use- generally non-urban- and will not include the extra value which will accrue only because of the decision to go ahead with the growth centre. On 7 October 1972 Sir Robert Askin announced his Government's intention to introduce such legislation covering the acquisition of land in growth centres.

Having acquired the land at a fair price and fair compensation being paid we then turn to the role of the private developers. I will take the Albury-Wodonga growth centre as an illustration. Within the existing urban areas of AlburyWodonga that is the area not subject to probable acquisition- private developers will continue as at present except that the States have agreed that major development will be referred through the State planning authorities to the Development Corporation to ensure that these major developments are compatible with overall plans for the growth complex. Outside the existing urban areas private developers will also have a major role to play, but they will be working directly with the Development Corporation in much the same way as private developers work with the National Capital Development Commission in Canberra. In other words, a substantial proportion of development will be carried out by the private sector working within plans and conditions laid down by the Development Corporation.

I turn now to the protection of the water in the River Murray. Coming from South Australia one realises it is a serious question. We in South Australia get only the water which everyone has polluted en route. Every extension of the use of the water in the River Murray deteriorates the quality of the water which we get for drinking in Adelaide. For the first time a department, the Department of the Environment and Conservation, has been appointed to look into such questions. The relationship between the development organisations for Albury-Wodonga and the River Murray Commission, as with other Australian and State authorities, is taken into account in both the Bill and the scheduled Agreement. Provision for agencies performing the normal functions and role in relation to the development of the growth centre is made in clause 8 (8) of the Bill and clauses 5 (12) (b), (13), (14) and ( 15) of the Agreement. In view of the special responsibilities of the Commission in regard to the River Murray there will be close and continuing consultation between the Commission and the development organisation to ensure that development programs are compatible with the River Murray environment.

The Cities Commission already has commissioned a major study on the River Murray in relation to Albury-Wodonga and there was close consultation between the Cities Commission and officers of the River Murray Commission in the preparation of the study brief, and close liaison will continue as the study progresses. The only other point left is the role of the local government authorities. There is no basis to the newspaper report that local government will not play a major role in the development of AlburyWodonga. Within the existing urban areas of Albury and Wodonga the local government bodies will retain responsibility for planning and development except in cases where major development proposals are of such nature to warrant consideration within the context of the overall project. In the case of Albury, the State Government recently gazetted an Interim Development Order clearly defining the role of local government within the boundaries of the Order and the matters on which it will be required to seek the views of the State Planning Authority and the Development Corporation. A similar arrangement is expected in respect of Wodonga in the near future.

In addition to these arrangements provision has been made for the 2 part-time members of the Development Corporation to be appointed from a panel of names nominated by local government authorities in the area. This will not be the only avenue for local government participation in that 7 members of the Consultative Council to be set up in support of the Development Corporation will be drawn also from local government bodies in that area. Honourable senators will see that a plan has been worked out for the development of the area which, I think, answers all the points that have been raised. The Government feels confident of the plan put forward and believes that it will set the pace for other areas where there are to be growth centres. I thank the Opposition for its support of the legislation and for the assistance it has given.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bills read a second time.

In Committee

The Bills.

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