Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

None . . Page.. 157 ..

Nevertheless, the Government faces a decline of $135 in real terms for each ACT resident. In total, decisions at the Premiers Conference resulted in a reduction of $30m, or approximately 12 per cent in real terms, in financial assistance to the Territory over 1994-95. Despite these pressures, I am committed to preparing the ACT for the completion of the move to State-like funding by 1997-98 without recourse to unsustainable levels of borrowing. Importantly, my colleagues from the States and the Northern Territory and I negotiated substantial concessions from the Commonwealth when it came to sharing out the expected dividends from the Hilmer reforms. I will speak a bit more about those later.

A further important decision taken by the Commonwealth was its agreement to continue indefinitely the real per capita guarantee for general revenue funding to the States and Territories. This will provide some much needed certainty for the States and Territories, since almost half of all the States' and Territories' revenue comes from the Commonwealth. The continuation of the real per capita guarantee is worth $184m to the ACT over the next nine years. The Premiers Conference also agreed to continue to distribute local government road funding on the basis of historic shares rather than having it absorbed into local government financial grants and distributed on a per capita basis. The alternative would have cost the ACT approximately $5m.

The major decision agreed at the Australian Loan Council related to the acceptance of each jurisdiction's nominated 1995-96 loan council allocation, or LCA. Such acceptance is subject to two considerations by the Loan Council. These are the implications for macro-economic policy of the aggregate of all jurisdictions' LCAs, and the Loan Council judgments about the acceptability and sustainability of the fiscal strategy implicit in the individual jurisdictions' nominations. The ACT's allocation was agreed at $29m and remains at a fairly modest level.

As a newcomer to the COAG process, I was enthusiastic about what we might achieve. I am pleased to be able to report that the meeting was very successful. The spirit of cooperation that was demonstrated in this forum was something that I was really glad to be part of. The council had some very important and, in some instances, complex matters before it, which included the national competition policy; health and community services, with some very exciting outcomes in that area; public housing; the centenary of Federation; and, of course, the complex issue of treaties.

It will be clear to everyone from the media coverage of the meeting that agreements reached about competition policy were very significant indeed. This meeting enabled leaders to establish a formal agreement to a legislative package based on the Hilmer report on national competition policy. The package establishes processes and institutions to encourage competition, not just in particular sectors, but right across the whole economy. The Industry Commission had estimated that the package of reforms, when implemented, could increase the nation's productivity by almost $23 billion, or 5 per cent of gross domestic product. The States and Territories have been concerned about the extent to which the substantial revenue gains from introducing competition

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .