Page 1718 - Week 06 - Tuesday, 3 May 2005

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The notion has been undermined by the recent actions of the federal government in the context of demanding further tax changes from the states and territories, beyond that required by the intergovernmental agreement to which the commonwealth is a signatory. There is every indication that the Australian government will seek to exert increasing control over the states and territories once they have complete control of both houses of the national parliament. There has been little attempt to mask the threat to the states and territories.

Mr Speaker, in the light of the Australian government’s actions, the states and territories have little room to manoeuvre. We are all currently negotiating with the Australian government on the need to retain the specified stamp duty taxes. As the matter remained unresolved at the time this budget went to print, it was not possible to reflect any negotiated outcome in the budget. However, based on the latest proposed position, the territory would lose revenue of about $12.9 million over the forward estimates period.

This budget also incorporates the revenue loss to the territory in the order of $18 million over the next four years due to the Australian government’s refusal to compensate the territory for revenue forgone from the regulation of companies and securities. It is difficult to comprehend why the ACT should be singled out for inequitable treatment, particularly when the states and the Northern Territory continue to receive equivalent payments for corporate affairs regulation now administered by the commonwealth.

The budget also accounts for the elimination of national competition payments, as the Australian government has unilaterally abandoned the agreement now that the states and territories have honoured their commitments made under the associated agreement. The states and territories believe that reforms undertaken under the umbrella of national competition will continue to generate revenues for the Australian government beyond 2005-06 and these revenues should continue to be shared with the states and territories.

Of further concern is the Australian government’s continued approach to specific purpose payment renegotiations. There is a concerted effort by the Australian government to have the states and territories accept greater financial responsibilities, such as matching arrangements, in service delivery programs not previously subjected to such a requirement. Sometimes the matching obligations on states and territories have been well in excess of commonwealth contributions or potential contributions. This push from the commonwealth is once again predicated on the belief that the states and territories continue to inherit so-called windfall gains from the GST.

The actions of the Australian government will continue to be an increasing source of pressure on the budgets of all states and territories.


Mr Speaker, this budget delivers on the government’s commitment to improve access to acute hospital services and to reduce waiting times in emergency departments. The budget remains responsive in its determination to tackle difficult issues in our health system like hospital waiting lists and emergency department access block.

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