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Monday, 20 June 2005
Page: 186

Mr FITZGIBBON (8:11 PM) —Over recent months the Treasurer has had a lot to say about the so-called infrastructure crisis in this country and in more recent weeks there has been an indication from the government that the Commonwealth might move towards a greater responsibility for the nation’s infrastructure, in particular as it relates to our export performance. On a number of occasions, the Treasurer has referred to the difficulties being experienced at Dalrymple Bay, the coal loading port in Queensland. In particular, he has suggested that the Commonwealth might take control of the regulation of that facility. In broader terms, he has suggested that the Commonwealth might take control of export facilities generally.

I would assume that that would involve some review of clause 6 of the original Competition Principles Agreement between the Commonwealth and the states. To take that further, I would assume that the government is contemplating revisiting the Competition Principles Agreement and suggesting that clause 6 may no longer provide an opportunity for the state governments to have their particular state based regimes certified under part IIIA of the Trade Practices Act; rather, the Commonwealth might seek to insist that all these industry based schemes come under the Commonwealth umbrella. This would have ramifications for Commonwealth allocation of funds, I would assume, because I would expect that the Commonwealth, if it were contemplating a renegotiation of clause 6, in particular, of the Competition Principles Agreement, would be thinking about compensating the states, as it did under the original agreement. So, if the Commonwealth has such a move in mind, I wonder whether there might be some allocation hidden away in the budget somewhere for those purposes. I invite the parliamentary secretary to respond, if he can.