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Thursday, 14 November 1985
Page: 2174

Senator VIGOR(3.13) —The Advance to the Minister for Finance is not generally a very exciting document per se. However, it does allow senators to see what extra activities the Government has been up to in the various months and what additional expenditure might be expected. For instance, in August this year there was an appropriation of $100,000 for the salaries of officers on the task force on `long term economic growth'. I believe that this task force will be reporting soon. I asked a number of questions in Estimates Committee A about some of the work that the task force was engaged in. I look forward to its report. It will be interesting to see what public documents, if any, arise from the work of this task force or whether that work will just result in a private report to the Ministers concerned.

Other interesting items that turn up in these monthly statements are the $100,000 in August for a special information campaign by the Department of Sport, Recreation and Tourism, about which very little information is given elsewhere, and the $1,300,000 for the Australian traineeship system, which I understand is having more than its fair share of teething problems. There are some quite striking entries for the month of September. An extra $500,000 in compensation and legal expenses was requested by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. I wonder exactly what this presages. The sum of $321,000 is being made available to the States and to the Northern Territory for measures to combat the transmission of the acquired immune deficiency syndrome. There does not appear to be any direct report on what any of these above expenditures are actually achieving. There is a new appropriation of $700,000 for the national space program. The Department of Industry, Technology and Commerce is getting a further $5m for salary payments. It seems, in a very strange way, that when responsibility for non-military offsets was transferred from the Department of Science, someone forgot the salaries for the staff. We did raise this matter at the Estimates Committee proceedings but I do not remember whether the amount which is shown here has been removed from the budget by the Department of Science.

One final item which deserves mention is the $38m-odd provided pending the issue of the Governor-General's warrant under the Local Government (Personal Income Tax Sharing) Act 1976. That gives me a timely opportunity to remind the Senate and the people of Australia of the way in which the Liberal, Labor and National Party senators joined ranks in May to cut about one-tenth off what councils were expecting to get in untied funds. My colleague Senator Mason was the only senator from New South Wales who understood the dislocation that was caused to councils in that State because of the interaction of this decision with the legislation introduced by the Wran Government for rate pegging. I believe that situation left a terrible problem for the Self report because the ground rules were changed half way through the national Inquiry into Local Government Finance. I hope, indeed, that local government will get a better deal and that we can look forward to the Government and the Opposition supporting measures to help local government, which is an essential part of the government structure within Australia.

Question resolved in the affirmative.