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Friday, 16 August 1974
Page: 1084

Senator STEELE HALL (South Australia) -I move:

In sub-clause (2), leave out 'only to the extent that the Treasurer is satisfied that they are required by the State '.

I move this amendment for a reason similar to that which I moved the previous amendment. Clause 5 (2) gives to the Minister a very strong veto power. Sub-clause (2) of clause 5 reads:

Moneys are payable to a State under sub-section ( 1 ) only to the extent that the Treasurer is satisfied that they are required by the State Tor the purpose of carrying out projects included in an approved program.

There are a few key words in that sub-clause. Only to the extent' is one grouping and the other is 'an approved program'. The First Schedule shows that over the 3 year period we will be dealing with $700m. It would appear under this clause that the Minister could, if he became a bit contrary, simply say: 'I am not going to approve it because I am not satisfied that the funds are required by the State'. That means that we are not actually voting a sum of money in the Schedule; we appear to be voting what proportion of the sum of money in the Schedule the Minister might like to pay.

I am not going to reflect on the Minister. I believe that he would want to pay the full amount. Under the circumstances of his present thinking he would want to be co-operative. He would want to issue a lot of directions, of course, under the power he aggregates to himself here, but he would want to spend the full amount of money. That is not to say that that will be the intent in 6 months time or in 2 years time in this 3-year agreement. We cannot allow the Minister to have this very strong veto power. I remind honourable senators again of the position which prevailed previously. We are progressing very rapidly with this Bill to total Commonwealth control in these circumstances of approved programs. I do not think the situation needs to be argued much more. Certainly, the amendment I have moved greatly restricts the Minister's ability simply not to pay the money. I believe if this amendment is approved we can be fairly sure that the Schedule sum will be paid.

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