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Wednesday, 11 December 1974
Page: 3435

Senator JESSOP (South Australia) - The Opposition does not oppose this Bill which seeks to provide $66,110,000 to the States for public transport projects. It is clearly in line with the Liberal-Country Party policy to provide a continuing program to enable the upgrading of urban transport in Australia. However, a great deal more is required to be done if much needed train replacement programs are to be carried out by the States and other projects for public transport are to be achieved. Ways must be devised to persuade private motorists to use public transport rather than their private vehicles, particularly in the central business districts of our capital cities. The problems of urban transportation are likely to assume increasing importance over the coming decades as many Australians are attracted towards cities. Most projections envisage further increases in motor vehicle ownership in Australia. For instance, it is estimated that by 1983 there will be 1.5 million private cars in Sydney while in Brisbane the number is predicted to rise from 226,000 in 1 968 to 658,000 in the year 2000. This is rather staggering.

In Sydney air pollution is a problem already. It is one of the worst cities in the world in this respect and by the year 2000 predictably it will be much worse. In order to discourage the continued intrusion of the private car into business centres more comfortable and more frequent buses, trains or trams must be provided and cheaper fares should be the aim of governments. In the 1973 Cities Commission's report it was estimated that by the year 200 1 Sydney will have a population in excess of 5 million, Melbourne's population will be greater than 4.4 million, and Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane and Hobart will have similar increases. If urban residents maintain the present trend in mobility it seems to me appropriate that relevant State governments should adopt the English and American idea of a single authority answerable to the State with responsibility for both town planning and transport but working in close and continued co-operation with local government.

In the interests of time I will reduce my remarks to a minimum but I do wish to point to the necessity to upgrade the road systems in our urban areas so that we can provide a more efficient and effective public transport system for our city areas. I believe that one method of improving public transport is to provide exclusive bus or rapid transit lanes on all new freeways. In this way buses can provide a viable alternative to the car. When automated systems are subsequently introduced into Australia bus lanes on busier freeways could be changed to guideways for rapid transit systems, especially on an unending freeway.

If all public transport systems were operated under a single authority, it could be arranged that a single ticket, for example, would provide transit on several forms of public transport, especially for inter-suburban movement. I am rather interested in this proposition of rapid transit systems and in my view in future bus services could be replaced by this form of transportation to advantage. At present freeeways cost about $4.5m a mile in the inner city area; about $2. 4m about 3 to 5 miles out; and $2m a mile further out. I believe- this is borne out by checks that I have made- that the inclusion of an additional $ 1 m a mile for public rapid transit systems in the construction stage would thus not be catastrophic while it would provide a public transport system which can be shown to be profitable. It would occur to me that the Government may consider bringing consultants to Australia from Germany. I know that in Freiburg in Germany there is an interesting development called DEMAG, which is an above ground level rapid transit system. It occurs to me that the Government ought to be looking towards gaining the knowledge of people who are well advanced in these systems. I think the Federal Governmment should consult the States to see whether there is a possibility of introducing a pilot scheme or schemes to experiment in this particular area of public transport.

The States claim that one of the reasons that their railway equipment is so old is the low depreciation allowed. Although most of this equipment is still functional, its economic life has well passed. If the Australian Government settled the outstanding debts of the railways and authorised the raising of loan funds to reinvest in rolling stock, the rate of amortisation could be adjusted to provide for replacement as technology improves, about every ten to fifteen years, rather than operating the equipment past its engineered life. Were it not for the restriction of time, I could elaborate on other areas of interest at which the Liberal Party and Country Party are looking.

Finally, I want to refer again to the Bill. I wish to indicate that the Opposition welcomes the measure. We are concerned about the problems of the States because the provisions in this Bill do not come up to the amount required by the States. I believe, for example, that Victoria sought $33.87m for projects to be undertaken in 1974-75. Under this Bill, Victoria will receive only $2 1.74m, a shortfall of about $ 12m. I want to refer briefly to one or two of the projects that are contemplated in South Australia. The Bill provides for rolling-stock for electrifying the Christie Downs railway. There are Municipal Tramways Trust projects involving the acquisition of 24 buses for replacement and extension of the service; acquisition of 3 bus prototypes; acquisition of 4 buses previously ordered by a private operator; and there are other capital items which are included for the benefit of South Australia. The other States will benefit in similar ways as a result of this Bill. I ask the Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones) and the Government to consider what I have mentioned about looking ahead to the possible time when we will be confronted with the introduction of these rapid personal transit systems. Perhaps the Minister might give consideration to inviting consultants from overseas to help him.

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