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Road funding is the "pace saver" for the premiers' conference



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21 April 1991

ROAD FUNDING IS THE "FACE SAVER" FOR THE PREMIERS' CONFERENCE

As my Shadow Minister for Land Transport revealed today (see separate release), road funding is set to become the "face saver" that Mr Hawke's Government needs to meet his commitment after the Special Premiers' Conference in October last year that the proportion of "tied grants" by the Commonwealth be reduced and that action be taken. The decisions are expected to be announced

in the Commonwealth offer at the Special Premiers' Conference on 2 2 M a y .

The Government's decision to withdraw completely from funding of arterial roads (presumably leaving space for the States to raise fuel franchise taxes to fund these roads) will reduce

Commonwealth spending by about $530 million from end 1991. And the decision to absorb rural road funding into Financial

Assistance Grants from fiscal 1991/91 will reduce tied assistance by about $530 million.

In other words, the Minister for Land Transport is to be made the "bunny" for the intransigent centralist tendencies of Mr Keating (who will only give BAD taxes to the States and refuses to

address more fundamental reform of the tax system) and Messrs Howe, Staples, Dawkins and Senator Richardson (who will not countenance any relinquishment of Commonwealth conditional control over grants in the health, education or welfare areas).

The Prime Minister has clearly been rolled again on this matter and one can only wonder why he embarked on such grandiose

promises before and after the last Special Premiers' Conferences without first checking his ground with his key Ministers.

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