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(Quorum formed) . . Page.. 158 ..

policy would be shared between the Commonwealth and the State and Territory governments. In August last year the Commonwealth offered the States and Territories a one-off payment of $700m. As a result of cooperative lobbying by the States and Territories, the Commonwealth increased its offer to the States to $2.4 billion - that is in 1994-95 terms - payable over nine years, commencing in 1997-98. That is a substantial increase.

I am pleased that the Commonwealth had agreed to a reasonable basis for sharing revenue gains with all States and Territories. For the ACT, this represents, in today's values, an additional $3.4m commencing in 1997-98 and building to $10.4m per annum in the year 2001-02. The payment of these amounts is, of course, conditional upon States and Territories implementing a number of reforms over that period. As most of the reforms are already part of the Government's economic reform agenda, meeting these conditions, hopefully, will not be a problem. In fact, this national approach to a policy of competition will, in fact, provide additional impetus to the ACT Government's own comprehensive reform package. My Government is already working on an implementation strategy for competition policy. There are a number of things we are happily committed to doing. These include reviewing regulation and legislation affecting competition and, of course, the development of a timetable for reform of all anti-competitive regulation and legislation by the year 2000, in accordance with the Hilmer principles. Further, in line with the principles agreed under the Hilmer reforms, we will also move to corporatise ACTEW, ACTION and ACTTAB. I am pleased that, although so early in my term, the ACT has been able to participate with all governments in this very groundbreaking process. I look forward to pursuing these reforms in the ACT. (Quorum formed)

The discussion of health and community services was also of particular interest to me in my role as Minister for Health and Community Care. Council discussed a process for reform which will see services delivered in a manner that ensures maximum coordination and the best outcome for consumers and patients. Continuity of care for patients between the hospital setting and the community will be a priority. Council agreed that it is essential that matters such as organisation of services, planning and funding arrangements, and nationally consistent data are developed in a manner that matches client needs and is cost-effective. The need to support competition in the delivery of health services was also recognised, and, again, I look forward to seeing the implementation of these reforms in the ACT.

In the area of public housing, council considered a report from the Housing Ministers and was able to agree to reforms which, in the long term, will see the Commonwealth responsible for income support and the States and Territories with responsibility for service delivery. Although not discussed at the meeting, the Commonwealth is proposing that funding for housing assistance move away from a per capita basis to a needs basis. In the ACT, this has the potential to reduce the level of funding that we now receive from the Commonwealth. I sought the assurance of the Prime Minister that our special circumstances will be considered when funding negotiations commence. I am pleased to say that I got that assurance from the Prime Minister.

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