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Pressure on state budgets - Premiers conference should be called



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STATEMENT BY THE RT. HON. B. M. SNEDDEN, Q.C., M.P. ‘‘I'toU. LEADER OF THE* OPPOSITION - 19 FEBRUARY, 1973 = XL- 3·--— ---- : ------ -------

Speaking to a meeting of supporters for the State seat

of Northcote, Mr. Snedden said: "Three weeks ago Mr. Hamer

called on the Prime Minister to hold a Premiers Conference„

, This Was a responsible and proper request which m i g h t ™ ' ■

h.Xve been expected to be agreed to promptly.

"In the 17 years since 1956 there have only been three

years in which there has not been a Premiers Conference early

in tiie year at which the States gathered with the Commonwealth

to consider their position. They are held midway within the

period from Budget to Budget. When the States are subject

to great change of expenditure pressures, as in recent years,

and- -also this financial year, there is no justification for

a meeting not to be held„ -

"There have been significant changes in State budgetary

positions which were not known and could not be anticipated

. at the June Premiers Conference and even at the time of State

Budgets.

"These changes relate largely to substantial wage increases

since June flowing to people in the State Public Service and

increased costs to the State for services and materials they

must buy in order to provide services to the public» \

"Changes in conditions for the Commonwealth Public Service

are immediately felt in the States. For example, four weeks \

annual leave granted by the Commonwealth is now claimed in the \

States. That will cost Victoria S3 million. If funds go · \

in these costs, services must be reduced0

"The Federal Labor Government has demonstrated no will to

' control the pressures of labour costs in either the public or j

the private sector. Yet it has shown a total unwillingness \ ■ \

to acknowledge the results of that capitulation. It cannot \

be ignored. χ

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"The current disease which has been running for a number

of years - of excess in labour demands and weakness in containing

them - has unhinged State budgets in the recent past and is

continuing to do so. Party

"Until the Labor^shows an acknowledgement of that effect

and a willingness to act to hold them in check rather than

acting to make it worse, the States cannot maintain their

programmes without extra assistance. ·

"The State Governments themselves constitute another

blind spot of Labor. If Mr. Whitlam had shown a willingness

to agree to the requests it would have been a sign that,he

recognises the responsibilities of the States and values their

programmes.

"He must know that if the States have to divert their '

financial resources to pay wages, then it is certain that both

the quality and availability of services will be greatly harmed."