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Monday, 22 April 1985
Page: 1311

Senator AULICH(5.42) —I rise to remind some honourable senators of the reasons the Commonwealth Grants Commission was set up in the first place. Primarily, it was to avoid the unwholesome and very damaging squabbles that occurred between the States and the Commonwealth Government year after year. It has worked, I think, fairly well. The only trouble, as Senator Peter Baume has pointed out, is that there has been an attempt over the years at Premiers Conferences to override what appeared to be some fairly objective recommendations by the Grants Commission. Secondly, we know that the Grants Commission was set up to get some form of objective measure in tax sharing arrangements to avoid the sort of parish pumping and gross dereliction of economic responsibilities that occurred in some of the States.

Let us face it, we have had some most unusual Premiers in various States over the years-we still have one in Queensland-who have had some most unusual viewpoints about what balancing the Budget is all about. To be quite frank, all of us in this chamber should be concerned about some of the things the Queensland Premier said before some elections. The interesting thing he said before one election was that any electorate which voted against the National Party of Australia, that did not return a National Party member, deserved what it got by way of loss of privileges and economic advantages. In other words, it would not get the schools, the hospitals and so on that it was entitled to simply because it voted the wrong way. It is that sort of policy that the Grants Commission was designed and set up to overcome.

I was also interested in some of the comments of Liberal Tasmanian senators. Some years ago, when I was a Minister in the Tasmanian Government, I raised the question of the Grants Commission's recommendations of the day. I mentioned that Tasmania would be severely disadvantaged by something like $65m. The support I received at the time was nil. In fact, I was abused in this chamber and in the House of Representatives by various Ministers of the day. I remember the now discredited John Howard, the Treasurer of the day, who described me as a liar because I indicated--

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! The time under Sessional Orders for the consideration of the Government papers has expired. As discussion of the report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission, has been interrupted, that item will automatically go on the Notice Paper. As there will be no General Business on Thursday, I will give an opportunity to honourable senators who wish to move to take note of the papers to do so, provided they immediately move the adjournment of the debate.