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The Premiers' conference: Comfortable, relaxed and comprised



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JO

LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

STATEMENT BY THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION, THE HON KIM C BEAZLEY MP

THE PREMIERS’ CONFERENCE: COMFORTABLE, RELAXED AND COMPROMISED

Today’s belated Premiers’ Conference outcome represents another broken promise, and an embarrassing political failure by the Howard Government.

The ill-judged Howard/Costello bid to abolish the sales tax exemption for State, Territory and Local Government without consultation was an arrogant, foolish strategy, now consigned to a file marked “Howard Government Failures”.

The unhappy compromise reached today breaks the Coalition’s promise on payments to tire States, imposes a new tax on some cars, and will lead to cuts in services, or higher taxes and charges for all Australians. .

These are the costs all Australians will pay for Howard and Costello’s arrogance and failure to consult properly with the States. To vary one o f Mr Costello’s favourite terms, they should send the bill to the Howard Government.

The Federal Government will not even tell us what’s in store for local government. We must assume ratepayers and small businesses still face higher rates , given that Costello’s local government GST was not rejected today by the State Premiers. a

At his press conference today, Mr Howard clearly stated that the cuts in Specific Purpose Payments “in this Budget round” will be limited to three per cent. This signals his intention to impose further cuts to tied grants in the next year.

In addition, Mr Howard has signalled that this year’s three per cent limit on cuts does not apply to higher education funding, nor to the grants paid to local government bodies throughout Australia.

Why is the Government so determined to cut payments to their own State Premiers? Because they have a $4 billion gap of unfunded election promises which they are desperate to fill.

Mr Howard and Mr Costello pretend that they are happy with the outcome. If that is the case will Mr Howard rule out any further cuts to the States and local government next year?

PERTH

June 14 1996 COMMONWEALTH

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