Page 1329 - Week 05 - Tuesday, 5 April 2005

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been repatriated to the ACT. If we did all this, the territory would be about $20 million behind. That is of great concern to all of us here, and all the states and territories.

MS MacDONALD: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. What consequences are there for the ACT that flow on from the council?

MR QUINLAN: Of immediate concern to us here is the pressure that is being applied by the federal Treasurer, backed up by the Prime Minister and backed up by threat. We rather suspect that Howard and Costello might in fact want to effectively renege on the intergovernmental agreement that governs the GST because they now have the prospect of unfettered power, having an absolute majority in both houses of parliament. So they can undo the GST.

In recent days, we have seen a propensity on the part of the commonwealth to try to place more and more conditions on various funding provided to the states and territories. We have seen those productivity payments disappear. We have seen that money then used to fund a Liberal promise in the 2001 election to do something about salinity in water, but to tie the states to matched funding and tie the states to applying for that money—and it must be used in water reform and it must be matched. Effectively, it is being taken away. We have seen a greater propensity on the part of the commonwealth to tie those funds.

What is of more immediate concern locally is the reaction of our opposition here, who have come out and supported Mr Costello. You are supporting Mr Costello in his efforts to reduce revenues that come to the states and territories.

Mr Mulcahy: To give the people a tax break; you won’t give them a tax break—the people of Canberra.

MR SPEAKER: Order! Mr Mulcahy.

MR QUINLAN: Not the people; these are business taxes. These are not people taxes; these are taxes applied to business. Are we going to have this naive bloody interpretation of economics that says, “What’s good for business is good for everybody. If we have business welfare in the territory—if we have conditions that are inequitable and favour business over private citizens—then automatically the good will flow to the private citizen.” I have to say that I am a little bit sceptical about that.

We have an opposition that wants to support the federal government. Every state and territory government may well find itself in a position of being in government at the same time as their party is in federal government. That causes certain strains. But I expect everybody in this place to have, as their first allegiance, the people of the ACT, even though it may place them in conflict with their federal members, to whom I can now sense a desire to pander—to agree with them at every corner.

It is very important to the people of the ACT that their government represent them. Inevitably, there will be tensions between the states and territories and the federal government, particularly in the area of funding and taxation. You have to make up your mind whether you are here to be an apologist for Peter Costello or whether you represent the people of the ACT.

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