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Tuesday, 13 August 1974
Page: 806

The PRESIDENT -Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-

This Bill complements the National Roads Bill and the Roads Grants Bill 1974 which I previously introduced into the Senate. I foreshadowed the introduction of this Bill when I recently introduced the Urban Public Transport (Research and Planning) Bill 1974. At that time I explained that that Bill allocated funds only for 1973-74 and was intended to operate retrospectively to authorise reimbursements for the States in respect of projects they had initiated in anticipation of that legislation being passed before the end of the 1973-74 financial year. The Bill authorises expenditure over the next 3 years, 1974-75 to 1976-77, of $26m on grants to the States for research and planning associated with roads and urban public transport. Under the terms of the Bill the Australian Government will meet twothirds of the cost of approved studies.

As has been mentioned on previous occasions the intention of the Australian Government is to introduce legislation in about 18 months time providing financial assistance to the States for transport generally in place of separate programs of assistance for various modes. In other words, our intention is to ensure that the whole question of transport is dealt with as an entity with each mode playing its proper part in the transport task. In respect of planning and research, however, it is possible immediately to take the step of ensuring that read projects are considered in relation to their priority with urban public transport projects and vice versa. To this end this Bill covers planning and research for both roads and urban public transport. This is most appropriate and will be a step towards greater flexibility in the use of available transport funds in the area of greatest need. My Government took immediate steps when it came to office to draw together its various transport responsibilities into one department and under one Minister.

This Bill will, I hope, be tangible evidence to the States of our policy for integrated transport development and will assist them in a similar aim.

Much planning and research needs to be done to facilitate the development of the new transport initiatives of this Government and we are prepared to assist with a significant allocation of money to help the States in the huge task of updating Australia's transport. There is a major need for more sophisticated planning and research in Australia in regard to all transport modes. The provision of assistance under this Act will be directed towards developing in the States more comprehensive planning processes than hitherto existed. There is also a need to look at the scope for rationalising our research and planning in Australia, exchanging information between the various authorities and developing data and information for use by interested research bodies.

Turning to road research this is an area where much needs to be done. Research into the physical attributes of various types of pavements and materials used for construction needs to be continuously developed along with research into road structures. This Government will endeavour to ensure that new areas of research into roads and road transport are developed. The financial assistance provided under this Bill will also be available to the States for use on road safety research. As honourable senators will be aware, the Australian Government has decided to establish its own road safety authority to extend research into this important area. However, the provisions of this Bill recognise that there will still be a very significant role for the States also.

The inclusion of research and planning for roads and urban public transport in the one bill is a logical step from many viewpoints. Much of urban public transport, especially buses and taxis, runs on roads. Furthermore road based public transport needs to be closely co-ordinated with the urban train and ferry systems. It is therefore appropriate that planning and research projects for both these areas be treated in the one Bill and that proposed projects impinging on these areas be considered together. This can only add to the understanding of the various transport modes, their relative merits and the interaction between them. This Government places considerable importance on the need to restore the place of urban public transport as a means of transporting people, especially in urban areas. Much therefore needs to be done in the way of research into new technologies, the planning of their introduction into service in Australia and the development of management techniques required to facilitate these developments.

Mention has been made on previous occasions of the necessity for studies to be undertaken into fare structures including the possibility of zoned fares, flat fare charges or a one fare structure for all modes. In addition, the applicability of technological advances, such as personal rapid transport, to our Australian conditions needs to be examined. The Australian Government has commenced some of this work with its own resources and honourable senators will recall that the Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones) mentioned the development of the Australian urban passenger train and similar proposals for the development of new and improved urban buses. This Bill will assist the States in similar projects and enable them to investigate, for instance, the increased use of modern water transport in some cities, the use of special priority systems for buses and many other projects that will contribute to an improved quality of life for the majority of Australians dependent on public transport in our major cities.

The Bill provides for a basic allocation of $15m among the States for expenditure on both road and urban public transport planning and research. Subject to the submission of acceptable projects a State can look forward to receiving the basic entitlement. In addition to this money the States will be able to submit projects for consideration beyond their basic entitlement. The Bill provides for additional assistance of $ lim which has not been allocated between States. This will give some flexibility to the arrangements and allow projects competing for these funds to be judged on their merits. I commend the Bill to the Senate.

Debate (on motion by Senator Withers) adjourned.

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