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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 4 Hansard (27 March) . . Page.. 923..


MR MOORE: Mr Speaker, when I made those statements I asked for staff to investigate and find out whether it was correct that Ms Duff was the president of the TLC. I was informed that she was. I have been informed today by a reliable person that I was incorrect and that what Mr Stanhope has put to me is correct, that she is the immediate past president and she did resign. For misleading the Assembly in that regard and for the remarks I made about Ms Duff in that regard, I apologise.

State-territory funding

MR HIRD: My question is to the Chief Minister. I refer to reports in today's newspapers that the New South Wales and Victorian Labor governments are joining forces to change the system of state and territory funding. They say that they want to cut the level of funding to the territory. Can the Chief Minister advise the parliament whether the ACT contributes more to the Commonwealth in taxes and charges than it receives in grants?

MR HUMPHRIES: Yes, I can confirm that that is the case. A few years ago, the treasury of Western Australia did some modelling on the amount of money which every state and territory contributes to the collective national fiscus, if you like, and the amount that each takes from it in the way of grants from the Commonwealth. It is on the record from the work of Western Australia on this subject, of which I have not seen a better version, that each man, woman and child in the ACT contributes $1,460 per annum to the national pool from which Commonwealth grants are drawn. By comparison, New South Wales contributes $410 per person and Victoria contributes $366 per person. Obviously, that is a reflection of the higher average income enjoyed by Canberra residents; nonetheless, it is worth noting that that contribution is being made.

It is also true to say that the ACT, as a community, enjoys a slightly higher return from the national fiscus than the national average and places such as New South Wales and Victoria, but there are very good reasons for that. The economy of scale that is not present in the ACT is one reason why that might be the case. The ACT government emphatically rejects the idea put by the premiers of New South Wales and Victoria that there is any imbalance that the ACT needs to account for. Indeed, the only imbalance that I see is one that very much disadvantages the ACT in terms of its contribution.

I was pleased this morning to see the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Stanhope, also contribute to this debate by indicating in respect of the premiers, "I have no hesitation in saying that they were wrong, misinformed and ignorant." I think that is an appropriate signal to be sending at a time when the ACT is being attacked. I will not know until Friday's meeting of treasurers in Canberra how successfully it has been attacked. It is very useful, I must say, to have a united political position in this place reflecting on the comments made by those two gentlemen. I am sure we would all agree that the ACT does not deserve that kind of comment, that the ACT is certainly pulling its weight in this federation, and that we have nothing to apologise for to any other state or territory in this country; indeed, we are a net contributor to the fortunes of other states and territories.


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