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not this year, I believe that it is supremely important that we do not allow the Commonwealth, or some agent of the Commonwealth, to argue our case for us. I believe that our participation in that forum is a recognition of our full place in the Federation, and I would never want that downgraded. It is only in the last two years, I think, that the ACT has been a full member of the Loan Council. Again, our membership of that body allows our financial performance, our budget performance and our economic performance, to be put on a par with the other States. It is a very proud performance, even if I say so myself. When you compare it with some of the other States and Territories, such as the Northern Territory and Tasmania, we have performed extremely well. The fact that that kind of information is about, the fact that the Territory is a full participant in these kinds of forums, over time - a long time, maybe - might break down that perception of the rest of Australia that we are a luxury they cannot afford. It is a very false perception. The Territory is paying its way, and I only wish that some of the other States and Territories would do as well as we have.

MRS CARNELL (Chief Minister) (4.52), in reply: I take this opportunity to reinforce some of the main points I made in my statement to the Assembly last Wednesday. The ACT was offered, as Ms Follett said, $15m in special revenue assistance through the Premiers Conference. That was more than any other State or Territory; in fact, the ACT and the Northern Territory were the only two States or Territories to receive any special revenue assistance at all. Nevertheless, the Government faces a decline of $135 in real terms for every ACT resident.

A further important decision taken by the Commonwealth was their agreement to continue indefinitely, as Ms Follett said, the real per capita guarantee for general revenue funding to the States and Territories. That will mean, over the next nine years, for the ACT, some $184m; so it is nothing to be sneezed at. The main decision agreed to at the Australian Loan Council related to the acceptance of each jurisdiction's nominated 1995-96 Loan Council allocation. For the ACT that was $29m, and it remains at a very modest level.

As members will recall from my earlier statement, one of the most exciting things to come out of COAG, and one that, interestingly, Ms Follett did not talk about at all, was the national competition policy. I wonder why.

Ms Follett: Yes, I did.

MRS CARNELL: Not in any depth at all. As a result of the cooperative lobbying of States and Territories, as Ms Follett did say, the Commonwealth will pass on to the States some $2.4 billion in compensation; but we did not like to call it that because the States and Territories do not quite perceive it in that way. That will mean $3.4m commencing in 1997-98 and, as Ms Follett said, in 1998-99, due to the new indexation formula the Commonwealth Government decided upon last night, we will end up losing about $3.5m. So, we get it one year earlier, but we lose it the next year. That figure will increase in the year 2001-02 to $10.4m, so certainly the ACT will come out better for the deal.

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