Page 1092 - Week 04 - Tuesday, 8 April 2008
ACT government did begin to pursue the possibility of bilateral negotiations and agreements. As a result of the efforts we have made to date, the governments of Tasmania and the Northern Territory have agreed to enter into bilateral agreements with the ACT government to allow seniors card holders in Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the ACT to use their seniors cards in each of those jurisdictions as if it were their home jurisdiction. We are negotiating memorandums of understanding. They have not yet been signed but we are now at the point where we are ready to enter into detailed arrangements with both Tasmania and the Northern Territory.
A sign of quite good hope is that the new commonwealth government has indicated that this is an issue on which it is now prepared to re-agitate at a national level, with a view to having national agreement. The big states have always been the sticking points—most particularly, New South Wales and Victoria. Their ministers, in forums at which I have been present, have always argued that the transferability issue disadvantages the larger states with larger transport infrastructure than it does the smaller jurisdictions. They point the finger and suggest that it is not surprising to them that the smaller jurisdictions—the ACT, Tasmania and the Northern Territory—have tended to advocate and pursue the prospect of transferability. I am not sure that their argument holds much water, but that has been the nature of the discussions that have been held in the past.
We have made good progress, Mr Mulcahy. We are at the point of entering into agreements with Tasmania and the Northern Territory, which I think is great progress.
MR SPEAKER: Is there a supplementary question?
MR MULCAHY: Thanks, Mr Speaker. Chief Minister, can you give an indication of the likely date for the commencement of those agreements and will you continue to press ahead with negotiations with other states to develop bilateral agreements?
MR STANHOPE: I will have to take the first part of that question on notice. I am not quite up to date with the extent of the progress, but I know it is advancing. Certainly, I will continue to agitate for it. I think that a national scheme is best and that it is in everybody’s interests. I understand that the federal government is interested in now pursuing the possibility of a national scheme, and I will continue to strongly support that.
MR SMYTH: My question is to the Chief Minister and Treasurer. Chief Minister, the latest Hudson report, released last Thursday, concluded:
In the current climate, the ACT economy appears to be faltering, with state final demand growth … the lowest rate in the country and well below the national average …
Further, the latest state and territories economic update from the ANZ Bank concludes:
Economic activity in the Australian Capital Territory has slowed and the threat of cost saving measures being targeted at the federal public service pose further downside risks.