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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 4 Hansard (1 April) . . Page.. 1148 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

covers the additional funding we spend on the police force as a direct result of the national parliament being here and the extra demands imposed by visits and demonstrations. Some other funding is paid to other states anyway.

I was advised by the federal Treasurer that the federal government wanted to roll that amount into discussions on the ACT's bushfire needs. It is a cause for some concern when something in a forward estimate in the federal budget and evaluated and measured by the Grants Commission has to this point been withheld.

In the normal financial assistance grants, the ACT received in the order of $10 million-plus less than we anticipated. The Grants Commission has judged that growth in household income and property values in the ACT would allow the ACT capacity to raise revenue through gambling taxes, through stamp duty on conveyancing and through payroll tax. I would like members to note those three. The Grants Commission believes that we are underachieving in revenue generation through gambling taxes, conveyancing duty and payroll tax.

Other matters that came before the ministerial council included the whole question of Commonwealth/State financial relations. New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia described themselves as donor states subsidising us mendicant states. They wanted the Grants Commission system changed. I guess the principle of horizontal fiscal equalisation and the justice inherent in that proposition were not entertained.

Concern was raised regarding the continuation of special purpose payments from the Commonwealth in real terms. Part of the interdepartmental agreement was that SPPs would be maintained at the level before GST. But whom can you trust these days?

National competition policy payments were discussed. Now that the so-called reforms have taken place in most states and the deadline approaches for all the reforms required under national competition policy, the federal Treasurer is talking about linking future competition policy payments with water reform. I imagine that is a convenient stick with which to pull the states into line or to get the states to contribute a little more in a couple more areas.

It was observed in a paper delivered that the Commonwealth's share of the national taxation cake is increasing at a greater rate than that of the states and territories, or its share is increasing in proportion while the state and territory share in decreasing in proportion.

The last matter I bring to the house's attention is an agreement by all states except Queensland to end bidding wars in pursuit of the location of business. Already there exists agreement between New South Wales and Victoria. They feel that that has saved them millions of dollars and not changed many decisions. It is hoped that at officer level we will continue to work to ensure that Australia-wide the bidding for business location becomes a thing of the past.

MS MacDONALD: I ask a supplementary question. Treasurer, are you concerned as to the ultimate receipt of the special fiscal needs funding?

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