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Thursday, 30 June 1994
Page: 2437


Senator GIBSON (1.58 p.m.) —I rise to speak on this legislation. Actually, Senator Short will be leading the discussion from the opposition side, and I am speaking to support him. I want to raise just a couple of issues. The opposition basically is supporting this legislation but, behind it, we are concerned about the bad relationship between the Commonwealth and the states with regard to finances. The fundamental problem facing Australia, which eventually has got to be addressed one of these days—it is a long-term strategy problem—is what is known as vertical fiscal imbalance. In other words, the Commonwealth raises two-thirds of the revenue; the states only raise one-third of the revenue; but the expenditure is exactly the reverse of that. We do not get responsible expenditure or efficiency while this imbalance takes place.

  Back in 1991, Prime Minister Hawke and Premier Greiner organised a Special Premiers Conference to discuss that financial relationship but subsequently that was scuttled by the current Prime Minister (Mr Keating) while he was tackling his ambition to become Prime Minister. That is basically what happened there. We have got to come back and readdress this problem of the vertical fiscal imbalance.

  Debate interrupted.