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Tuesday, 1 October 1974
Page: 1560

Senator McLAREN (South Australia) - I take this opportunity to refer to an article which appeared in the 'Sunday Mail' last weekend and to statements attributed to Mr McLeay, the honourable member for Boothby, in relation to the growth centre at Monarto. In this article Mr McLeay referred to a paper which was tabled in the Parliament last week. It is Occasional Paper No. 1 of the Cities Commission and is titled 'Urban and Regional Development -Overseas Experts' Reports'. The report in the Sunday Mail' last weekend attributed the following comments to Mr McLeay:

Mr JohnMcLeay, MHR, the Federal Opposition spokesman on housing and reconstruction said yesterday that Monarto was 'teetering on the verge of collapse'. Describing the project as a fundamental blunder Mr McLeay said: 'It will never be a goer, lt will always be a couple of windswept hills.'

These statements are in keeping with many statements made by members of Mr McLeay 's Party to which I have referred on previous occasions in this Parliament. I have referred particularly to statements made by Mr McLeay 's colleague, Dr Eastick, the Leader of the Opposition in the South Australian Legislative Assembly. During the election campaign in March Dr Eastick said at Murray Bridge that Monarto would be an economic sink. It is quite obvious that the Liberal Party is very much opposed to the establishment of Monarto because Mr Brown, a South Australian Liberal member, has also been very critical of the establishment of a growth centre at Monarto. Members of the Democratic Labor

Party in South Australia have been so critical of Monarto that I brought the matter to the attention of the Senate last week in my speech on the Budget. The South Australian Parliament had to establish a royal commission to investigate the allegations made by Dr Eastick and representatives of the DLP.

Mr McLeaybased his Press article on a very small part of the report to which I have referred and I intend to quote it. The relevant portion, which appears at page 29 of the report, prepared by Mr Elkouby and Mr Labro who came from overseas to have a look at growth centres in Australia, states:

The case of Adelaide has appeared to us as particularly interesting as it highlights the many contradictions under which those responsible for urban policy have to operate as a result of a lack of clear national objectives.

Adelaide with a population of 800,000 (that is smaller than Lyons or Marseilles) covers an unusually large area for a city of that size: about 80 kilometres long and 25 kilometres wide.

These dimensions are a direct consequence of the detached house type development and explain the growing difficulties the South Australian authorities have in providing such a large metropolis with the necessary urban infrastructure and services, particularly transport infrastructures, so essential to its survival. In spite of the wise land development policies and the amazing efficiency of the South Australian Housing Trust the cost of these infrastructures will ultimately affect the cost of housing and the budget of municipal authorities.

These considerations must undoubtedly be one of the main reasons for the Monarto new town project, which is situated about 80 kilometres from Adelaide and linked to it by a freeway still under construction. However, in our opinion these considerations are not sufficient to begin right now the construction of Monarto. It would appear that the decision was made by the State authorities without sufficient appraisal of other possible solutions such as increasing the concentration of certain Adelaide areas of low population density through urban renewal.

We were also given the impression in our discussions with the South Australian authorities -

They do not give the names of the authorities- that some country towns could well be suited to development as attractive regional centres. One such town could be Mount Gambier in close proximity to the Victorian border and the port of Portland. We think it would be advisable to initiate a study of the potential of Mount Gambier and other such centres for regional industrial development.

In the light of the studies now available and Adelaide's present problems in attracting new industries, the Monarto project appears to us, to say the least, very premature.

That is all that those 2 people had to say on their visit to Adelaide. It was very short and might well be termed a flying visit. I want to contradict their report on which Mr McLeay has based his argument by quoting from a summary of initial investigations of urban centres prepared by the Cities Commission. This report was instigated by the National Urban and Regional Development

Authority which was set up by our predecessor, the Liberal-Country Party Government. When we came to office we changed the name to the Department of Urban and Regional Development. The report to which I have referred stated, under the heading ' Monarto, South Australia ':

In 1972, the South Australian government took significant steps in urban planning by agreeing that an upper limit of 1.3 million for the future population of Adelaide was desirable and by setting in motion the planning for a completely new city to serve as an alternative location to Adelaide for future population expansion.

The site for the proposed new city of Monarto was selected in 1 972 and is located near the town of Murray Bridge on the Murray River some 60 kilometres east of Adelaide.

Honourable senators will note the difference. The experts from overseas said that it is 80 kilometres from Adelaide. The Cities Commission, using data compiled at the request of the previous Government, states that it is 60 kilometres from Adelaide, a difference of 20 kilometres.

The Cities Commission accepted the planning philosophy of the South Australian government in its assessment of the proposal and studied Monarto primarily from the viewpoint of deciding what would be the likely rate and pattern of growth increase still available in metropolitan Adelaide.

It was concluded that the Monarto project formed a desirable component of forward planning for Adelaide, and that development should commence at the earliest opportunity. As the New Town's potential is directly related to the growth of Adelaide the project is heavily dependent for its viability on the strong support of the South Australian government, particularly in its early stages. The analysis shows that in order to achieve a population in Monarto of 1 70,000 by the year 2000, approximately one-third of the estimated growth of Adelaide will need to be diverted to the New Town.

The development of a strong public sector employment base is important in the initial stages and the creation of an attractive environment for new residents is important.

I repeat that the report was prepared by the National Urban and Regional Development Authority which was set up by the previous Government. It agreed that the South Australian Government should explore the possibilities of Monarto. Dozens of brochures have been put out which completely refute the statement by the 2 overseas experts and by Mr McLeay that no research was done. Mr McLeay went on to say in his article that there were a number of criteria necessary for a new city project to succeed. He said that these included an existing employment industrial base, access by road, rail, air and sea if possible, an adequate supply of raw land, water and other services as well as suitable areas such as beaches and rivers for the population to relax. He is reported as saying:

Monarto enjoys none of these advantages, except adjacency to an overworked River Murray.

It is quite obvious that Mr McLeay, being a city based member, has never got any further than a couple of miles from the Adelaide General Post Office or he would realise that his statement is completely untrue. As to his reference to access by road and rail, the main road from Melbourne to Adelaide runs right through the heart of the project, as does the main railway line from Melbourne to Adelaide. Monarto is close to the main pipeline from Murray Bridge to Hahndorf and in close proximity to Lake Alexandrina, a great water resort. It is close to the beach resorts of Port Elliott, Goolwa and Victor Harbour. Those resorts are only a stone's throw from the centre of the project. Mr McLeay said that these are the things required for the establishment of such a project. That is why I said that he has never been further than 2 miles from the Adelaide GPO. Senator Davidson is an ex-Strathalbyn resident and he would know that Mr McLeay is wrong in that statement. He must back me up in what I am saying. Mr McLeay went on to say in the Press report:

In the Opposition's view the Monarto project is simply a costly public relations exercise designed to demonstrate the Government's apparent commitment to decentralisation.

If that is true, is it not equally true of what the present Opposition was saying when it backed the South Australian Government in a feasibility study of Monarto back in 1972? Mr McLeay and his colleague Dr Eastick have hopped on the bandwagon and have tried to prevent the establishment of Monarto because it is their policy, and it has always been their policy. If we cast our minds back quite a number of years we find that every major capital works or development of decentralisation which has been projected by a Labor government has been knocked by the people sitting opposite. They should cast their minds back to the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority. This was one of the greatest engineering authorities, schemes and feats in the southern hemisphere. What happened when we initiated that scheme? Mr Menzies was invited to attend the opening. He boycotted the opening because he said that the scheme would not work. But at the completion of the project last year the Liberals were there in their hundreds, patting one another on the back and saying that it was a wonderful project. It was the baby of a Labor Government, the same as Monarto is.

It would appear that Mr McLeay and his colleagues want to see Adelaide develop along the lines on which Sydney and Melbourne have developed. They are over-crowded. The people cannot find decent homes in which to live. They are herded like sheep. The South Australian Labor Government had the foresight to look ahead. The Premier, in a statement which he made a couple of years ago, said:

Why the new town must be started now:

A start must be made now to divert some of the population growth which without counter action now will push the Adelaide urban areas of population from 809,500 at the census of 1971 to over 1.3 million by the early 1990s. To obtain a levelling off of the capital 's population at the desired maximum, action must be taken 2 decades in advance.

This is the policy of the Labor Government. We look to the future. We want to ensure that the things which happened in Sydney and Melbourne in years gone by do not happen in Adelaide. What is our reward for this foresight? We are being criticised each day by honourable senators opposite and their colleagues.

The major point to be made is that Elkouby and Labro base their opinion that Monarto is premature on the premise that redevelopment of existing Adelaide should take place with higher population densities being accommodated. In effect, they are saying that the people of Adelaide are enjoying too much park land and too much open space for living; crowd them up and put them into high rise, high density living; forget about Monarto; squeeze all the people into Adelaide. The South Australian Government took the view in 1972 that the existing Adelaide environment should be preserved; therefore, to do this, the new city of Monarto should be commenced. Mr McLeay and his colleagues are obviously of the opinion that Adelaide is not a beautiful city or a city worthy of preservation. The only alternative to Monarto is the destruction of the existing city of Adelaide and its redevelopment as a city of high rise concrete and steel.

Senator Webster - Who said that?

Senator McLAREN -Mr McLeay and Dr Eastick have advocated this. The decision to choose Monarto was made by the South Australian Government in 1972 and was accepted by the Liberal-Country Party Federal Government when it recommended Monarto as the area in South Australia to be investigated by the National Urban and Regional Development Authority when it was established. I referred to that a few moments ago. If one were to believe Mr McLeay 's views now, one would be excused from believing that the establishment of NURDA and the decision to support Monarto as South Australia's new city was simply a public relations exercise by the present Opposition. Mr McLeay was trying to say that the South Australian Labor Government advocated Monarto only as a public relations exercise when, if these words are correct, that is what his Government was trying to do prior to the 1972 election. If a change of Government had not occurred in 1 972 on Mr McLeay 's arguments the Liberal-Country Party would have withdrawn its support for Monarto. The people of South Australia should be aware of the Opposition's true intentions in the area of decentralisation. It does not wish to see decentralisation work but prefers to see the continued over-building of our existing cities, particularly the city of Adelaide. A considerable amount has already been spent on Monarto, which is well advanced in its planning and primary development stage. Monarto will be a success, as I have said on many occasions in this Parliament, and will ensure that the distinctive character of Adelaide, which draws so many people to call it one of Australia's most attractive capitals, is not destroyed.

In the Budget this year, as in the Budget last year, there is an allocation for the establishment of Monarto. So much so that the Australian Government has now provided the South Australian Government with $5. 5m, which is the amount which the South Australian Government sought for the development of Monarto. Only one conclusion can be drawn when people such as Mr McLeay and his colleagues try to throw cold water on this project. The people of South Australia must be warned that if there is a change of government the money for Monarto will dry up, there will be no Monarto and the people of Adelaide will be faced with the possibility of living in a situation similar to the situation in which the people of Sydney and Melbourne are living- that is, over-crowding, high rise living and crowded streets. I am proud to say that the Government of which I am a member is supporting the Government of South Australia, which I have supported, in its efforts to decentralise, to keep Adelaide a free and open city with the parklands which it now has and to develop adjacent to Adelaide an area in which people can live with all the facilities that they require. When the freeway is completed in 1977 they will be able to go either to Adelaide or to the sporting areas which I have mentioned- that is, the beaches and the lakes in close proximity to Murray Bridge and Monarto. No doubt we will hear from time to time more criticism of the South Australian Government for its initiative in establishing this town, but I can assure honourable senators opposite that while we are in government, both in Canberra and in Adelaide, Monarto will proceed. It will not be many years before it will be a city of which all of us can be proud.

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