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Monday, 11 November 1991
Page: 2798

Senator OLSEN —Does the Leader of the Government in the Senate agree with Premiers Kirner and Bannon that a formal Commonwealth-State tax sharing agreement must be the main objective of the Special Premiers Conference and, if not, why not?

Senator BUTTON —There is a little bit of public posturing, I suppose, on this issue.

Senator Kemp —Who by?

Senator BUTTON —There is nothing new about that. It has been happening for as long as I can remember, and that is a fairly long time now. The States always make pronouncements about these issues before any Premiers Conference. Apart from any public utterances, I understand that, for example, Premiers Bannon and Greiner told the Prime Minister on Friday that the idea of the States was to institutionalise the Special Premiers Conference so as to provide a continuing mechanism for discussion between the Commonwealth and States on matters outside the annual Premiers Conference. The Commonwealth Government agrees with that. But, in terms of discussions to be held in Perth at the next Special Premiers Conference, the Commonwealth will put its position in the context of that conference and, so far as I am concerned, not before.

Senator OLSEN —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Does the Government therefore rule out the Premiers' plan for a specified share of income tax revenue?

Senator BUTTON —The Government has indicated that, in regard to the way in which the proposition is currently put by the States, the proposal is very similar to a State income tax and will not be supported by the Commonwealth.