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Friday, 17 December 1993
Page: 5036

Senator CAMPBELL (8.31 p.m.) —I just wanted to put on the record—because Senator Gareth Evans has gone to some length to say that the government will act in good faith in these matters—that this government, in relation to its negotiations with the Western Australian government, has shown no good faith whatsoever since June last year. Senator Short has raised an important issue of the Commonwealth intervening in state affairs using tied grants.

  Only in October of this year, there was an example where the Commonwealth included for the first time in a draft for the renewal of a landcare Commonwealth-state agreement, I think it was, which it put to the Western Australian government—I do not have it in the chamber with me; it is back in my rather extensive Mabo files in the office—a clause which one could consider to be a condition of the Commonwealth funding the landcare project that was under consideration. The condition was that, in the Commonwealth's words, the agreement would be subject to the state government recognising either the Mabo decision or the existence of native title.

  That is one example of the very concern that Senator Short has raised where the Mabo issue is intervening in a range of Commonwealth-state affairs. It actually contradicts exactly what Senator Gareth Evans told us; there is no good faith there. The federal government will not only use its financial power in respect of this legislation but also in just about any area into which it can intervene.

  This government has had a total lack of faith in the state premiers. It is fair to say that the previous Prime Minister, Mr Hawke, made a genuine attempt—even after his famous Boyer lectures where he suggested that the states should be abolished and that we should set up regions—when, after many years in office, he saw the wisdom of a strong federation and sought to do something constructive about it.   On the other hand, Mr Keating used the federal-state financial relations reforms that Mr Hawke proposed to undermine Mr Hawke's leadership. Mr Keating is an avowed centralist. He does not like the states. He does not like the Senate. So he will do and does everything that he can to undermine the state governments. He has done more in the last two years than any other Prime Minister in the history of Australia.

Senator Short —He used it to bring down the former Prime Minister.

Senator CAMPBELL —He did indeed. The real thing that the people of Australia must understand is that the government knows that it cannot abolish the Senate and it cannot undermine the states through referendums or any democratic process. So this federal government under Mr Keating, who is an avowed centralist, is using every surreptitious means possible to undermine the powers of the states. It is doing this in the areas of health, education and now land management by using the power of the purse to rip tax funds off Australian citizens and then to hand the money back to the states in the form of tied grants. Again, we have an example of it here in this bill.

  The main point of my contribution tonight is to inform the Senate that what Senator Gareth Evans has told us tonight is not true. The federal government is already using native title as a Trojan horse to intervene in many other areas. There is a document floating around the building—my colleague Mr McLachlan may have tabled it in the House of Representatives in October—which is a landcare agreement in which the Commonwealth has put a condition that the state government recognise the existence of native title, or some other such clause. That is an example of an agreement that has absolutely nothing to do with either the Mabo High Court decision or native title.

  Question put:

  That the amendments be agreed to.