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Tuesday, 4 December 1973
Page: 4180

Mr GARRICK (BATMAN, VICTORIA) - Is the Prime Minister aware that the Premier of Victoria, Mr Hamer, has blamed the Commonwealth Government for his repudiation of an election promise to rebate 50 per cent of pensioners' municipal rates? Was any approach made to the Commonwealth Government by the Victorian Government prior to the Victorian election for assistance with this scheme? If not, is this just another case of a Liberal Premier making the Commonwealth Government a scapegoat for an election promise that he never intended to keep?

Mr WHITLAM - I never made any such promise on behalf of the Government Party at the last elections. There is no such proposal in the Government Party's platform. I must confess that I had not heard that Mr Hamer had made this allegation. I would be surprised if he did, but if he did make it there is no basis at all for it. The Australian Government's approach to local government is quite clear from the fact that we so early sponsored amendments to the Grants Commission Act and also the fact that we are sponsoring referendums next year coincidental with the Senate election or other elections at that time, and one of them will make it possible for the Australian Government to deal directly with the elected local government bodies as regards both outright grants of money and also grants which are repayable. The Australian Government's attitude to local government and to the general question of rates should be seen in that context. We believe that nobody sorting out the arrangements between the different tiers of government in Australia these days would ignore the role of local government and the responsibilities of local government imposed upon it by State governments. It is the fault of State governments that the income resources of local government bodies which they have created are so limited.

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