PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 2692


Photo of McMahon, William

McMahon, William

Period of Service: 10/03/1971 to 05/12/1972

More information about McMahon, William on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 11/10/1972

Release Type: Statement in Parliament

Transcript ID: 2692

I move that the Bill be now read a second time.
On 19 September, I made a statement to the House
announcing that the Government proposed to take new initiatives
to work with the States towards urban and regional development
objectives. I said that the Government had decided that it will
take immediate stens financially and in other ways in a co-ordinated
programme with the State Governments.
The introduction of this bill fulfils the commitment
I then gave to introduce interim legislation into Parliament this
session. Although the lecgislation is interim, the new authority
set up by the bill will nevertheless be required to operate with
vigour and in accord with its charter from the outset.
In a vast country which is developing as rapidly
as Australia, it is most important that the Government take
responsible action which will influence the distribution of
population and economic activity to the economic and social
advantage of the nation.
The stresses and strains of growth are having an
impact on the living conditions and the environment of the entire
Australian community. These-pressures which are being felt in
many countries, present issues of national moment warranting
co-operative action between the Commonwealth and the States. We
have the experience of the United Kingdom, France and Canada amongst
others to draw on. The Government believes that unless we ermbark on a
vigorous, imaginative and responsible programme of urban and regional
development, in partnership with the States, our efforts to secure
a better quality of life for the Australian community through a wide
variety of existing programmes will he compromised. / 2

The consequences of the imabalance caused by the
concentration of population and employment around the principal
Australian cities with the resulting problems of congestion and
pollution are such that action must now be taken.
The trend to increasing concentration is already
evident to a degree which is causing concern. If no action is
taken, the problem will become more acute as our population
grows from 13 million to possibly 22 million over the balance of
the century. The increasing concentration of population in our
great cities will magnify the consequences of increasing population
growth. It is the geographical distribution of population and
industry rather than total scale which calls for our attention.
We believe it is widely accepted that these are
national problems requiring urgent attention, and that the
Commonwealth should participate with the States in solving
them. We believe that a properly conceived and well
managed programme of urban and regional development will be
approved and welcomed by the community generally.
It is clear that the Commonwealth and States
must work together. It is also clear that there will be a need
for additional expenditure and the Commonwealth stands ready
to contribute its share.
As, importantly, we will shape our own policies
and programmes where appropriate so as to ensure that urban and
regional implications are fully taken into account. The
implementation of a successful national programme of urban and
regional development could mark a turning point in the social and
economic life of this country.
Our efforts must be successful. Therefore, they
must be properly conceived.
The Commonwealth/ State Officials' Committee on
Decentralisation which conducted its researches in the Australian
context concluded that the only type of decentralisation which
offers significant prospects of success is selective decentralisation.
As stated on 19 September, the Commonwealth
endorses this conclusion and favours the development of a small
number of carefully selected centres, having regard to factors likely
to be favourable to their gro. wth.
Later on, with -he benefit of more experience and
the availability of more resonrces, it can be expected that
additional centres will be selected for accelerated growth. We
will want to identify and encourage the balanced growth of submetropolitan
centres as an a. ternative to growth in the existing
city areas. / 3

' 14p

In co-operation with the States, we will look for
those sub-metropolitan centres that offer the greatest potential
for rapid development. These will be centres near to but distinct
from the existing major cities.
It is our view that the development of regional
growth centres and sub-metropolitan centres projects capable of
being defined, programmed and financed offers the most direct
and beneficial means of immediate Commonwealth involvement.
As I have emphasised, however, the action to be
taken must be taken in consultation and partnership with the
States. Our early discussions with the States will have as their
first objectiv the fullest urderstanding of the nature of the
problems to be overcome. We will be seeking tc establish how best the
combined resources of the Commonwealth and State Governments
can be marshalled to tackle these in an economic way and in the
interests of the nation as a whole.
As I have said previously, it will be necessary to
guard against the cost of development of selected centres being
inflated by increases in land values directly attributable to
the policy initiatives of the States and the Commonwealth.
This bill is the first ston towards implementation of a new
Commonwealth initiative. It is, however, designed to establish the National
Urban and Regional Development Authority on a oroper and sound
basis and to enable it to commence its work immediately. The
nature of any later legislation will, of course, be determined in
the light of experience. Nevertheless, the name given to the
Authority clearly indicates the Government's longer term intent.
We are concerned with national objectives in urban
and regional development and we are concerned with development
itself. Ours is a practical approach and the concept of a statutory
authority and of the title chosen for it reflects our practical aims.
It is proposed that the Authority be constituted by
a Commissioner. I have already announced that with the oassage
of the legislation, the Government proposes to invite Sir John
Overall to serve as the first Commissioner and to guide the new
organisation in its initial establishment period.
The Government is fortunate in having a person
as experienced and so able as Sir John to call on until his
retirement in July next year.
The bill also proviles for the Commissioner to be
assisted by a Deputy Commissioner. The appointment of statutory
office holders will be effected as so on as possible after the
bill is passed. The duties of the Authority are stated in Clause 12.
It will be required to investigate and report to the Prime Minister
3 / 4

on matters relating to urban or regional devclopment. This
investigation and ;!~ lvice would be desiqnel to assist the Government
in making decis. o: ns having urban and ragional implications.
It will also be designed to assist the Government in
its consideration of the grant of financial assistance to a State
in connection with urban or regional development.
Such matters zas the selection of centres f or the
promrotion of rapid growth, the particular stops by which this might
be encouraged, Practical arrangements for ranid develonment, and
financial questions including the scale of Commonwealth supportF
are relevant to the establishment of a co-or* dinated progratmme.
Advice woculd! bfe available to the Government from
the Authority on the terms an6 co-nuitions on which finincial
assistance for urban ana regional develomment might be granted by
Parliament. The bill ,-rovides for the Authority to have power
to do all things that are necessary or convenient for the performance
of its functions. It may undertake nilot or experimental projects,
studies, including feasibility studies. It may enter into consultative
engagements with professional crrounps and Ge-v, rnment agencies,
and provide information and a( dAvic2 to other authorities.
Provision is mad e in the Bill br the Authority to
comply with any O. irections qivi~ n >-the Prim_-minister with respect
to maltrs to be invest igated bythe Authority. This clause will
ensure, for examni; le, that -1ecisions reached by the 1r1inisterial
Council, consisting of tlhe Prime Minister and the Epremiers, to which
I referred in my statement in this House on 19 Sentember, are
followved through in the o~ perations of the Au-th1ority.
In addition to the norma. provision for an annual
rczport, the Authority is required to report to the: Prime Minister
not later than 30 June 1973 on matters relating to urban and. regional
development during the five-yoar T.) eriod thc-reaftar.
It is not the ' 1ovevrnment'-s interntion thp~ t the_
Authority should produce th time a definitive Stato. ment on a
national urban and regqional cevcoont strategy. The Governmient
does, however, propose to rmova Jin an expnendiUture seanse commencing
fro~ m the financial year 1973/ 7,1. It will be the resi~ onsibility of the
: Iu t ho r ity, therefore, to advis the -Government in time-L for its
Budcaet considerations in 1973 of the broad directicn in which
Commonwealth activities in urban and regional kdevelopment might
be sha'e-O over the f ive-vyear perioO. Th'Lis will not be a final
bluonrint but rather the f-irqt stateme= nt of aun active--nrogramme.
The stceps involved in its rre'-ration -will be discussed by the
Ministerial Council. Funds will be' made available during this
present financilal year 1972/ 73 ' or the initial operations of the
A uthority. The Pill, inf course, contains aporonriate provisions
relating to officers' rights, staff, audit and finance.

The Bill establishes an Advisory Committee of up to
twelve members including the Commissioner. The Committee will be
comprised of persons who, by virtue of their knowledge and experience,
can assist the Authority in the performance of its duties. This is
a formal Committee created by the Statute with membership appointed
by the Prime Minister and designed to ensure the availability of a
wide range of advice and response to the Authority.
At the level of Governments, I have already mentioned
that we propose tho e! 3t. ablishment of a Ministeria'l Council consisting
of the Prime Minister and Premierzs as the-orincipal body for
consultation and co-ordination in the field. -f urban and regional
development. I have alroady written to the Premiers about the
Commonwealth'~ s intentiono.
Members havct already noted from my remarks that the
Authority will be responsible to me as Prime Minister. This central
place in the machinery of Government will add strength to the discussions
between me and my State colleagues.
Mr Speaker, this Bill is amongst the most important
legislation introduced into the Federal Parliament during the postwar
years. It marks our recognition that there is a direct contribution
that the Commonwealth Government can make in national urban and
regional development for the benefit of all Australians. Commonwealth
assistance for urban and regional development is not new. What is
new is Commonwealth participation with th~ e states in a co-ordinated
programme of urban and regional development.
Our objectives will not be achieved easily or overnight.
But it is imnortant to make a start in the prevailing climate of
accord about the need for new initiatives and the broad nature of
them. We will pursue these objectiv2s vigorously.
I commend the Bill to the House.

Transcript 2692