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Friday, 5 October 1984
Page: 1327


Senator REYNOLDS —I refer the Minister representing the Minister for Territories and Local Government to figures on the allocation of funds by the Queensland Government to the various local government authorities in that State through the Queensland Grants Commission. Is the Minister aware that the percentage increases for 1984-85 in allocations to these authorities vary dramatically between the different regions of the State? In particular, does the Minister agree that the western shires of Queensland have been savagely discriminated against by the Queensland Government?


Senator GIETZELT —Yes, I have seen the figures arising out of the decision of the Queensland Grants Commission which has the responsibility of allocating Federal funds to the various local government authorities in Queensland. One can only come to the conclusion that it has done so on a highly discriminatory basis. The purpose of the Grants Commission is, of course, to top up or even up the facilities and resources in local government areas. But that practice is not being followed in respect of Queensland. For example, the allocations show that by far the biggest percentage increases in funds in 1984-85 have gone to the already well catered for, well developed districts like Albert which, of course, happens to be in Minister Hinze's stamping ground on the Gold Coast, and Noosa, which is in the heart of the seat of Federal National Party member Clarrie Millar. The dis- advantaged and isolated communities of Queensland-I have heard many members of the Opposition speak on this-particularly the areas in the Gulf region of the State, have been very savagely treated in this allocation. Therefore, there is reason to doubt the way in which the Grants Commission is carrying out the Federal Government's express desire that a policy should be followed that assists the less developed areas so that there is a degree of balance in the way in which local government develops throughout Queensland.

I have a copy of the letter which the Shire Clerk of the Shire of Burke in the Gulf region wrote to the Queensland Premier, Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen, last month , protesting against the harsh discrimination that is being practised against the local authorities in the Gulf region and drawing attention particularly to the gap between the Premier's public expressions of concern, which I am expressing here today, and his actual deeds when those expressions are put into practice by the Grants Commission. The figures in the correspondence provided on the scale of the discrimination are very enlightening. Although I have not had the opportunity to show the letter to the Opposition, I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard the letter to the Premier of Queensland from the Council of the Shire of Burke.

Leave granted.

The letter read as follows-

THE COUNCIL OF THE SHIRE OF BURKE

Our Ref: 2/6 HBM Council Contact: K. Bourne-McRae The Hon. Sir J. Bjelke- Petersen, Premier and Treasurer P.O. Box 191, Brisbane, North Quay, Queensland 4000.

My dear Premier,

REF:-GRANTS COMMISSION

We are compelled to write and express this Council's disappointment, yet again, in the 1984-85 allocations from your government's Grant Commissioners.

Sir, I remind you that when you met with the representatives of the Gulf Local Authorities Development Association (G.L.A.D.A.) in Normanton last October, you voiced your concern in 'how the Grants Commission were allocating funds to this remote and forgotten region'. However, as you can see from the listed percentages below, not one single thing has changed-in fact in real terms the gap has widened drastically.

1982-83 1983-84 1984-85

Percentage Percentage Percentage

increase increase increase Local Authorities

on 1981-82 on 1982-83 on 1983-84

Johnstone 20.61 11.05 10.6 Noosa 8.59 11.08 14.7 Albert 34.34 11.02 16.9 Mulgrave 33.57 11.06 11.6 Logan 34.32 9.93 7.8 Maroochy 34.35 11.01 5.4 Burke 7.11 4.29 2.6 (GLADA) Carpentaria 8.43 4.10 2.6 (GLADA) Etheridge 7.72 4.05 2 .6 (GLADA) Croydon 20.38 6.88 5.4 (GLADA)

It is our strongest belief that the allocations are a FARCE and in NO WAY attempt to comply with Section 13 of the act, which states:

(1) The Commission shall-

(a) Make recommendations to the Minister with respect to the allocation of moneys that the State is entitled to receive from the Commonwealth each year by way of financial assistance for local government purposes for allocation amongst Local Authorities on a general equalization basis, that is to say, on a basis that has the object of ensuring so far as is practicable, that each Local Authority is able to function, by reasonable effort, at a standard not appreciably below the standard of other Local Authorities in the State, being a basis that takes account of differences in the capacities of the Local Authorities to raise revenue and differences in the amounts required to be expended by the Local Authorities in the performance of their functions.

It is no good crying foul on the Federal Government's allocations, when on receipt of a statewide increase of 5.9% you allow such variations to occur to the disadvantage of your citizens choosing to reside in the Gulf to develop this State.

It is this Shire's views, that on present allocation to this area in the financial year 1986-87 we will in effect be receiving minus increases in our allocations!

As Premier and Treasurer, the Council of the Shire of Burke believes you are the only person who can correct this blatant rip-off of disadvantaged Local Authorities throughout this Northern Region of Queensland.

Yours sincerely, Kevin Bourne-McRae Shire Clerk 19.9.84 c.c. Minister for Northern Development