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Tuesday, 10 October 1972
Page: 2352

Mr Whitlam asked the Treasurer, upon notice:

Will he bring up to date and consolidate the information which his predecessor and be have given on 15th May 1970 (Hansard, page 2331), 20th August 1971 (Hansard, page 486) and 2nd December 1971 (Hansard, page 4115) on the internal and overseas securities on issue, annual interest liability and capital repayments in respect of (a) the Commonwealth, (b) each State, (c) semi-government authorities in each State, (d) local governments in each State and (e) each mainland Territory.

Mr McMahon - I am informed the answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

The information previously supplied on Commonwealth and State securities on issue, total debt of semi-government authorities and local governments, annual interest liabilities, capital repayments of Commonwealth and State Governments and funds provided for redemption by semigovernment authorities and local governments has been consolidated and brought up to date in the following tables:










The information in the foregoing tables has been taken from Government WhitePapers, Government Securities on Issue (published each year with the Budget papers), The Annual Reports of the National Debt Commission, Finance Bulletins, Bulletins on State, Territory and Local Government Authorities' Finance and Government Securities and Local and Semi-Government Authorities Debt.

Statistical data for Local and SemiGovernmental Authority Debt was not collected during the war years and was resumed in 1946-47. Details for Commonwealth, State, Local and SemiGovernmental Authorities have been shown for 1947 in lieu of 1945.

The table 'Capital Repayments' shows actual expenditure of the Commonwealth and the Slates on debt redemption from the National Debt Sinking Fund, Consolidated Revenue Fund and Trust Fund. It excludes redemptions from Loan Fund, i.e. where securities are issued and the proceeds used to redeem other securities

The figures shown for Local and SemiGovernmental Authorities are of funds provided for the redemption of debt. They relate to funds provided for combined redemption programmes for both internal and overseas debt, i.e. repayments by instalments, and amounts credited to sinking funds - including earnings on sinking fund investments. Unlike Commonwealth and Slate sinking funds, contributions paid into some Local and Semi-Governmental Authority sinking funds are not expended on debt redemption as they become available, but are accumulated until maturity of the loan for which the contribution is payable.

With regard to the Mainland Territories, data for debt outstanding and capital repayments are only available since 1960.

Sewerage Services: Perth Metropolitan Area

Mr McMahon - The honourable member for Stirling (Mr Webb) asked me a question on 19th September 1972, without notice, concerning a letter to the Treasurer from the Chairman of the Perth Metropolitan Water Supply, Sewerage and Drainage Board asking for Commonwealth funds to assist the Board in providing sewerage facilities.

I saidI had not seen any such letter, and reminded him that normally a letter of that kind would come through the Premier and not direct from a semi-government authority. I undertook to obtain the letter, and to ask for a Treasury report to be sent at the same time.

I have been informed that the Chairman of the Perth Water Board did write such a letter, but that it was addressed to the Minister for Supply and the Minister Assisting the Treasurer, who replied to it and who has subsequently answered a fur ther letter from the Chairman of the Board.

Copies of the Chairman's first letter were sent to the Treasurer by some members of this Parliament, including the honourable member for Stirling. They were answered by the Minister Assisting the Treasurer. The Treasurer himself answered a letter from the Minister for Air on the subject.

The replies made by the Minister Assisting the Treasurer, and by the Treasurer, set out the Commonwealth Government's policy on the matter of Commonwealth assistance to State semi-government and local authorities, which is well known to honourable members. In brief, the Commonwealth's policy on this matter is that these authorities are created and function under State law and their finances are a matter for State Government consideration. In accordance with this attitude the Commonwealth, rather than provide funds specifically for such authorities, provides large amounts of untied assistance to the State Governments which they are free to disburse as they wish. It also, of course, provides assistance to the State Governments, as appropriate, in connection with their Loan Council works and housing programmes. A significant proportion of the latter is made by way of grants.

The replies also pointed out that Western Australia received a further temporary addition of $3m to its semi-government borrowing programme for 1972-73 (making a total of $9m in all) following submissions to the Loan Council by the Premier concerning unemployment in the Perth area and the suitability of an expansion in the Perth Water Board's works programme to assist in overcoming this. The State will also continue to benefit from permanent additions to its semi-government borrowing programme of $2m and $3 that were approved, again with Commonwealthsupport, in 1970-71 and 1971-72 respectively.

As I reminded the honourable member for Stirling, it would not be appropriate for the Commonwealth to consider any policy change in relation to such a matter otherwise than as a consequence of an approach made to me as Prime Minister by the Premier of the State concerned.

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