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Thursday, 9 December 1976

Mr NEWMAN (BASS, TASMANIA) (Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development) - I thank the honourable member for his question. I have noted the comment in the Age today. I should make it clear from the beginning that if there has been any delay in signing these financial agreements it is not because of fault or delinquency on the part of this Government. The facts are these: At the ministerial council meeting all governments indicated their intention to sign the AlburyWodonga financial agreements for 1 976-77. At that council meeting on 8 November it was agreed that the financial agreements should be signed before 30 November. I think that all honourable members here would realise that these are complex documents and therefore they have to be scrutinised very carefully by the officers concerned. That was done by the officers of my Department, and the draft agreements were circulated to both New South Wales and Victoria before 30 November. The response to the draft agreements is that the Victorian Government has formally agreed to sign the agreements. Unfortunately as yet the New South Wales Government has not formally agreed to the draft agreements that were sent to it but it has indicated its intention to sign them. As soon as the New South Wales Government gives its formal approval we will take urgent steps to ensure that the agreements between the 3 governments are completed. I am asked whether there is a cash crisis. As the 3 governments have indicated their intention to sign, I think that the usual mechanisms can now apply. That should prevent any cash crisis for the Corporation occurring in the short term.

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