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Wednesday, 14 September 1983
Page: 752

Mr SIMMONS —Is the Minister for Territories and Local Government aware of continuing statements by local government bodies throughout Australia, claiming that while the consumer price index moved by 11.2 per cent in 1982-83 personal income tax collections, which act as a criterion for revenue sharing grants to local government, increased by 8.2 per cent? Can the Minister assure the House that local government will continue to receive sufficient financial support in recognition of its status in the three tiers of government in Australia?

Mr UREN —Last year $424m was made available to local government under the income tax sharing arrangements. This year approximately $460m will be made available. That figure represents 2 per cent of last year's income tax receipts. The Cabinet assessed that an 8.2 per cent increase in funds this year would provide a slight real increase over the projected increase of 7.5 per cent in prices during the year. As Minister for Territories and Local Government I examined, together with my colleagues, the moneys to be made available to local government by this Government in this financial year. Last year the former Government made available to local government a total of $687m. This year the amount will be some $994m, an increase of about $300m made available to local government by me and my colleagues. That is an increase this year in the order of 45 per cent.

The Government's commitment does not stop there. This Government, with its commitment to local government, for the first time in history has set up a department responsible specifically for local government. I inform honourable members that when I became Minister for Territories and Local Government four bureaucrats looked after the Federal Government's responsibility for local government. This Government set up the Department of Territories and Local Government. It recognised local government at the National Economic Summit Conference; it recognised local government as a member of the Economic Planning Advisory Council. It has moved towards a constitutional recognition of local government and a sub-committee of the Australian Constitutional Convention has been set up to review the role of local government within the Constitution. So this Government has a broad commitment to local government, and has increased substantially the finance available to it. We believe that the only way in which social problems in city and rural areas can be solved is by a real spirit of co- operation between Federal, State and local governments.