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Wednesday, 17 November 1976
Page: 2777

Mr HURFORD (Adelaide) -The amendment moved by the Minister Assisting the Treasurer (Mr Eric Robinson) may be, as he calls it, a technical one, but it is indicative of the mess surrounding this legislation. The Committee will remember that on the last occasion this Bill was before it a number of other amendments were made at the last minute by the Government dancing to certain tunes and reacting to pressures that were brought from elsewhere. On that occasion the Opposition made its position quite clear. It had no part of this legislation which was part of the so-called new federalism. The Opposition indicated that the amount of money made available to local government through this Bill was totally inadequate. It was not related to a growth tax; it was related only to income tax which, in times of tax indexation, we believe will not be a growth tax.

We made it clear that local government would be uncertain of the amount of funds it was to receive in the future because of the ability of the

Treasurer (Mr Lynch) to declare that certain parts of income tax were not income tax for the purposes of the calculation. We made it clear that we believed that the expertise in the Australian Grants Commission should be used rather than setting up all these separate bureaucracies- the local government grants commissions-in the States. We made it clear that there ought to be a maximum of 30 per cent of the amount being made available under this Bill for per capita grants rather than a minimum of 30 per cent, which, for example, has given rise to Western Australia making 80 per cent of the funds available on a per capita basis. Of course, the consequence has been that far less is available on a needs basis for the topping up process.

Having made all those points, I state that the Opposition did not intend to become involved in these messy amendments which were introduced. This amendment is just another of those messy amendments. I think that, in drawing up this legislation, the Government ought to be ashamed of itself in relation to the whole concept it has adopted. It does not bring credit to it. The Opposition, while washing its hands of it, will not oppose the amendment. I felt it incumbent upon me to make those remarks about it.

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