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Tuesday, 25 November 1986
Page: 2663


Senator REYNOLDS —Is the Minister for Community Services aware of allegations made by the Queensland Minister for Welfare Services, Mrs Yvonne Chapman, that the Commonwealth is depriving Queensland families of their full share of funds under the new family support programs? Does Mrs Chapman have anything to boast about, given that Queensland has the lowest per capita figure for welfare spending? What are the facts relating to the Federal Government's family support program initiatives?


Senator GRIMES —It has come to my attention that Mrs Chapman has sent out letters to Queensland organisations which are funded under the family support services scheme, suggesting that despite her best efforts-I think that is the expression she used-the Commonwealth is depriving Queenslanders of their fair share of family support funding and allocating it to other States. To say the least, Mrs Chapman is telling fibs. I can assure honourable senators that under the new family support program Queensland has been allocated its exact per capita share of the available expansion funds. Queensland has approximately 16 per cent of the population and gets 16 per cent of the funds available for new or expanded services under the agreement that I have negotiated with the States. The only aspect of the new program arrangements which might be seen to disadvantage Queenslanders is the distribution and indexation of funds to pre-existing family support services, some of which were funded by the Commonwealth and some of which were funded by the State.

It is to these pre-existing services, originally funded by the Commonwealth under a variety of arrangements and for a range of purposes, that Mrs Chapman is referring when she accuses the Commonwealth of providing less funding than Queensland has claimed as its entitlement. What she does not state is that Queenslanders are greatly disadvantaged relative to people of other States in respect of pre-existing family support services because the Queensland Government would not provide them with any funds. The Queensland Government provides only $488,000 or 6 per cent of total State assistance made available to family support despite the fact that it has 16 per cent of Australia's population and despite the fact that in some areas, particularly with teenage illegitimate births, it has much higher rates than any other State. Mrs Chapman is trying to overcome, as she often does, her own Government's inadequate expenditure in this area. The letter is obviously and plainly misleading to say the least. In fact it tells lies, but that is what we have come to expect from that Minister and that Government.


Senator Chaney —Mr President, I think that is unparliamentary.


The PRESIDENT —The Minister is referring to the actions of a Minister in another parliament, a member of another parliament, and I ask him to withdraw.


Senator GRIMES —I withdraw that, yes. The letter itself tells lies, not the Minister; if that suits the honourable--


Senator Chaney —That is not a meaningful withdrawal. Senator Grimes is referring to a letter from the Minister, as I understand it.


Senator GRIMES —I will withdraw. I hate to see Senator Chaney upset so early in the week.