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Thursday, 30 April 1987
Page: 2378

(Question No. 5141)

Mr Wright asked the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 25 February 1987:

What funding and assistance has been offered by his Government to the Queensland Government, but which has been rejected because the Queensland Government was not prepared to match the funding offered, accept specific conditions for expenditure or for any other reason.

Mr Hawke —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

There have been three instances since March 1983 where offers by the Commonwealth Government of funding assistance to the Queensland Government have been rejected or remain unresolved because of Queensland's refusal to accept the terms of the assistance:

(1) Sugar Industry Assistance

In late 1983, following termination of an International Monetary Fund sugar stock financing facility, the Commonwealth offered Queensland a short-term loan of up to $700,000 to provide an alternative stock financing arrangement until 30 June 1984. The Commonwealth also advised Queensland that, on the basis of the outcome of further discussions with the sugar industry about the financing of additional stocks, it would consider additional assistance to the sugar industry.

The Queensland Government did not accept this offer and it lapsed on 30 June 1984.

In September 1985, the Commonwealth agreed to an assistance package of up to $150 million for the sugar industry in Queensland and New South Wales for the three seasons 1985-86 to 1987-88. The offer was conditional on the two States making matching contributions and industry agreement to a schedule of deregulation. New South Wales agreed to the package but negotiations with Queensland became deadlocked because it opposed contributing to price support and favoured only limited deregulation.

The Commonwealth agreed in May 1986 to a revised proposal of $100 million in assistance to New South Wales and Queensland over three years from 1986-87. Final agreement to this package, including price support, was reached towards the end of 1986.

(2) Transfer of Nurse Education from Hospitals to Colleges of Advanced Education

This program involves a Commonwealth subsidy to the States and Territories to assist them meet the cost of transferring nurse education from hospitals to Colleges of Advanced Education. Apart from a subsidy, those States and Territories undertaking the transfer are eligible for funds for the retraining of qualified nurses.

The transfer is either well underway or planned for commencement by 1988 in all States and Territories except Queensland. The State has not forfeited entitlement to funding in 1986-87 but should it decide not to proceed with the transfer in 1987, it is expected that the Commonwealth assistance will be released to other States.

The Queensland Government refuses to accept the terms of the Commonwealth offer, claiming that the Commonwealth should meet the full cost of the transfer.

(3) Conservation of Wet Tropic Forests (North East Queensland notably Greater Daintree area)-

The Commonwealth offered in 1984, in the context of a proposed moratorium on further development in the tropic forests of north east Queensland, to collaborate with Queensland in a land resources survey of the region, to make available selective assistance for conservation and provide immediate assistance to develop a plan of management for the Greater Daintree area. The offer was ignored.

In June 1986, the Commonwealth agreed, in principle, to the provision of $22.3 million for national rainforest conservation in 1986-87 and 1987-88. The assistance is subject to a number of conditions, including matching arrangements by the relevant States. Agreement has been reached with New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. Negotiations are continuing with Queensland and have been held with Tasmania.