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Hawke begins to pay off the A.L.P Centralists

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156/91 5 June 1991


Mr Howe has scored his first victory as Minister "Assisting the Prime Minister in Commonwealth/State Relations".

The Prime Minister chose to use a dorothy dix at question time today to back away from the promises he made in a moment of

euphoria after the Special Premiers' Conference last year to make genuine reform to Commonwealth/State financial relations.

The reasons are now clear.

The proposals made then to reduce untied grants to the States; hand back functions where there is overlap and duplication; and give the States meaningful additional taxing powers have proved unacceptable to the ALP centralists led by Mr Howe.

Any hope of genuine reform to devolve power in a responsible way to the States has been killed o ff.

It is to be replaced by some new phraseology which runs that the Commonwealth will pursue national objectives along agreed national lines.

That is "looney Left speak" for saying that the states will be coerced and cajoled with offers of additional funds (the proceeds of asset sales?) to do the Commonwealth's bidding in areas such as urban reconstruction.

That is the worst possible sort of policy responsibility

structure. It is Whitlam's DURD (Department of Urban and Regional Development) reconstructed. Here we have a Deputy Leader, who also fills the role of a line Minister in a key area of social policy, set loose to "smooth the path" for the Left's Agenda of centralisation a la Victoria.

It is worth recalling the then Treasurer, Mr Frank Crean, was left helpless by the Whitlam policy constructs which set the DURD negotiators loose to do deals with the States on urban

redevelopment without reference to the Treasurer.

Look out Mr Kerin, you are being hogtied to the looney Left's agenda.