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Wednesday, 10 November 1976


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Giles (ANGAS, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) -I would not try it.


Mr CORBETT -However, I would like to take up the honourable member on some of the points he made which I believe were irrelevant to the Bill. He talked about the Federal Government taking over the Queensland State railways. In Queensland we thought so little of the former Federal Government that we would not let it take over anything in Queensland and we based our decision on that Federal Government's incompetent handling of our economy, which was brought to its lowest level in the history of this nation. Why should we have given that Government the railways which we were prepared to handle ourselves? If we had those railways would have been brought down in the same way as the economy was brought down. The honourable member asked where the money came from to develop Queensland. Most of it did not come from grants such as the one we are debating now. Most of the money came from Queenslanders themselves, and that money was better handled by Queensland than it would have been by the Commonwealth Labor Government.

He also talked about the structural adjustment schemes. If he were to use those schemes on the Australian Labor Party as far as I can see that is where they would be most effective. Perhaps then the Labor Party would be able to provide a better Opposition in this House and in Queensland. Queenslanders have decimated the Labor Party in that State and the Labor Party now has only 1 1 members in a House of 84 members. In the judgment of Queenslanders the Premier of that State who has been denigrated in this House tonight stands as high as any Premier of that State. He is still prepared to stand up to all the criticisms coming his way and he stands high in the eyes of Queenslanders generally. I believe that a lot of those comments made against him tonight are the result of bitter feelings because of the success achieved by his Queensland Government and it does not do the honourable member for Adelaide who has just spoken or his Party any good to give the type of oration he gave tonight in the debate on a grants Bill.

The honourable member also talked of secession. It was spoken about in Western Australia too. Are the Western Australian people to be denigrated for thinking of seceding because they felt that they were not getting all that they thought they should? I do not believe in secession but the Premier of Queensland is not the only one who has talked about it. It has been talked about in States when people feel they are not getting the treatment they should get from this national Parliament. They are entitled to their opinion. The Queensland people have backed their Premier and will continue to do so. There is no question about that.

The main purpose of this Bill is to authorise the payment to Queensland of $2 7m in special assistance grants. In his remarks in this respect the honourable member for Adelaide was dealing with the Bill. He talked about States coming cap in hand. Surely if there is an arrangement whereby States can apply for these grants why should it be called coming cap in hand if they do? What about the contribution which Queensland has made to the soundness of the national economy and our balance of payments? The honourable member brushed over this very lightly, but the Premier has mentioned it. What about the exports from Queensland which have assisted the national balance of payments to the great advantage of every Australian? Those are the things that are sometimes forgotten and they apply also to Western Australian.

Mr KeithJohnson- This is Bjelke-Petersen propaganda.


Mr CORBETT -That was the fellow from the south who probably would not know where Queensland was, but if he does know where it is the best thing he can do is go there and get a lesson in how to run a State. It is a good job that he is not running the State of Victoria. That is all I can say in reply to that interjection.


Mr Keith Johnson (BURKE, VICTORIA) - You are being terribly nasty.


Mr CORBETT - I treat people as I find them and I have found that this is a pretty good measure. I do not try to be less than fair when doing that. Payments which have been made under this sort of legislation have made a contribution to those States which are at a disadvantage with other States and in doing that have assisted the balanced development of this nation which is beneficial to every resident in it. Surely we all should subscribe to this view but sometimes when I hear some of our southern friends talking I wonder whether they do. The balanced development of the nation is really the principle behind State grants and every State had taken advantage of these grants over the years. We in Queensland make no apology for doing so when we use the money as effectively as we have in the interest of the Commonwealth of Australia. It is all very well for people from southern States with a greater density of population to criticise but I heard a professor from the Australian National University, when speaking in Queensland one night, say: ' I wonder whether, if the settlement of Australia had begun in Townsville, we would be talking now about the under-developed south'. So those people who have such great pride in what has been achieved in some parts of the Commonwealth might think about the advantages they got from the early settlement of this country. Those people who developed the outlying areas in other States deserve the gratitude of the Australian people for their work and we in Queensland make no apologies for what we have done. The Queensland Grant (Special Assistance) Bill provides for the payment to Queensland of $27m.


Mr Martyr - Not enough.


Mr CORBETT -Hear, hear! That comprises advance payments of $ 1 8m in respect of 1 976-77 and completion payments of $9m for 1974-75. The basis of those payments is fairly well known. The comments of the honourable member for Adelaide in this regard were perhaps the most acceptable part of his speech. The advance will be subject to adjustment in 2 years time. That has always been the basis on which these grants have been made. After they have been looked at in 2 years time the completion payments will be made, and that is a reasonable approach. This is the last year in which these formula grants are to be made but, nevertheless, the less populous States still will be able to apply for special financial assistance on the recommendation of the Grants Commission. So despite all that has been said the principle behind the grants is still being applied and still being accepted by this Parliament. It is not being opposed by the Opposition which was so critical of what is being done. Honourable members opposite talk about the States coming cap in hand. This is a 2 -faced approach as can be seen when we compare what is being said by the Opposition with what is being accepted by it.

Some criticism was offered of Queensland because it will do away with death duties at the beginning of next year. This is a progressive move and one which is accepted in many areas of the Commonwealth as being long overdue. A progressive government has made this decision and it is a move that will be followed elsewhere. Other States will not follow it too closely because they do not like to give Queensland that much credit, but they will follow it. The Commonwealth Government is moving in that direction and it may well be that other States will follow the lead of this very progressive and able State Government. The criticism of it was quite unjust.

Death duties are an iniquitous tax. People, particularly primary producers who have a viable business probably carrying a debt, can be forced to the verge of insolvency or even into insolvency because of death duties. It has happened many time. They cannot sell part of an estate to pay probate or succession duties and so the whole of the estate is forced on to the market at any one time. It would not be a viable proposition if they were to sell part of the estate anyway. This is one of the criticisms of this tax but no mention was made of it by the Opposition tonight. Queensland is to be complimented on what it has done down the years. The money it has received through grants from the Grants Commission has been well and faithfully applied to the advantage of Queensland and the Commonwealth. I am quite confident that the Queensland Government will make very good use of the funds provided under this legislation.

If this Parliament feels that it should not be making these grants it is up to the Parliament to say so. However, we will not get any opposition from anybody because honourable members opposite are not prepared to show their opposition because they know that if they did they would not have even the 1 1 members that they now have in the Queensland Parliament. So there is no opposition to this Bill. The principle behind making grants to the less populous States is sound, particularly in the promotion of the balanced development of this nation and that, I believe, was the statesmanlike thought which brought this scheme about in the first place. I commend the Bill.







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