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Tuesday, 30 May 1972
Page: 3253


Dr PATTERSON (Dawson) - In the second reading debate I referred to the Schedule to this Bill. The Schedule purports to be an agreement between the Commonwealth and the States. I have not yet received any explanation of the actual working of the Schedule. Normally in development projects an agreement is signed by the Prime Minister and the Premier or their respective representatives. This is some type of open-ended agreement and one can only assume that it has been agreed to by the States and the Commonwealth. Let me illustrate my point by a practical example. Last Saturday a State election was held in Queensland. Paragraph (c) of the Schedule to this Bill reads: the Commonwealth and the Stales have agreed to implement the further programme. . . .

That is a statement of fact. It says that the Stales have agreed to do something. A State election was held a month ago in Tasmania and there was a change of government. 1 assume that the new Labor Government in that Stale has agreed to this proposal. A State election was held in Queensland last Saturday. If there had been a change of government in that State how could anyone say that the new Government-


Mr Birrell - There should have been a change.


Dr PATTERSON -I accept that, but in view of the blatant gerrymander in Queensland how can we expect it? The point I make is that if there had been a change of government in Queensland how could one assume that there has been agreement? Normally before a Bill comes into this

Parliament agreement reached between the Commonwealth and the States and the Bill then comes before the Parliament for ratification of the agreement. There has always been some doubt about whether the Parliament has the right to ratify agreements. 1 referred to this matter, as 1 recall, about 5 years ago and asked whether this Parliament could alter the agreement. This is an agreement between the Commonwealth and the Slates, between the Prime Minister and the respective Premiers. It is not an agreement made between the Parliament and the States. This Schedule defines 'the State Treasurer' as the Treasurer of the State. If there were a change of government in a State there would be a change of Treasurer. I believe these are practical questions and honourable members are entitled to know the answers. First of all, why has this agreement not been agreed to by the Slates? Secondly, what would have happened had there been a change of government last Saturday in Queensland? Thirdly, has the new Labor Government in Tasmania agreed to this Schedule? These are important questions. This Schedule commits the Commonwealth to an agreement with the States and it can only be assumed that all States have agreed to it. If it had been signed by the Premier of Queensland some time before last Saturday. 1 would assume that it would be valid.

It is not often that there is an open-ended agreement between the Commonwealth and the States. It is essential for the House to have some information on this matter. I raised this point in the second reading debate. Assuming there was a change in a State government, what would happen if an amendment to the Schedule was made by the incoming government? Would it have to come back to this Parliament. These are all practical problems which I have never noticed previously when dealing with development projects involving agreements between the Commonwealth and the States. Agreements are reached between the Prime Minister and the Premiers before they reach this Parliament.







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