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Thursday, 15 March 1973
Page: 673


Mr Snedden asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:

(1)   On what dates were conferences held between the Prime . Minister and the Premiers in each year from 1st January 1955.

(2)   Following each such conference held in the month of January, February, or March of the year, did the Commonwealth announce any financial or other commitments, additional to those included in the preceding Budget, for assistance to the States.

(3)   What was the rate of increase in average weekly earnings in the last, completed quarter over the preceding quarter in respect of each of the meetings in part (1).


Mr Whitlam - The answer to the right honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   Since 1st January 1955 Premiers' Conferences have been held on the following dates: - 1955- 22-23 June. 1956- 28 June; 16-17 August; 13-14 November. 1957 - No Premiers' Conference held.* 1958- 13 February; 5 June. 1959- 4-5 March; 23-24 June 1960- 23-24 June. 1961- 14-15 June. 1962- 15-16 February; 27-28 June. 1963- 14 February; 17-18 June. 1964- 12 March; 2-3 July. 1965- 22 April; 1-2 June. 1966- 16-17 June. 1967- 16 February; 28-29 June. 1968- 27-28 June. 1969- 13-14 March; 26 June; 18 November. 1970- 26 February; 25-26 June; 8 October. 1971 - 4 February; 5 April; 16 June. 1972- 14 February; 22-23 June.

* No Premiers' Conference was held in 1957. However during the meeting of the Loan Council held on 23rd-24th May there was some mention of general revenue grants, which is a matter which would normally have been discussed in a Premiers' Conference.

(2)   The information sought by the honourable member is set out below. Note that, for the sake of completeness, information is given on any increases in the borrowing programmes of the States or their authorities agreed on at meetings of the Loan Council held in conjunction with the Premiers' Conferences indicated. 13th February 1958

The Commonwealth undertook to provide additional assistance grants totalling SI Om, their purpose being to help those areas which had been adversely affected by drought and economic conditions and. in particular, to stimulate home-building activity.

The Loan Council agreed to increase the borrowing programmes of smaller State authorities for 1957-58 by $6m. 4-5th March 1959

New Commonwealth Aid Roads arrangements, to replace those which were to expire

The Commonwealth undertook to provide additional assistance grants totalling S20m to the States in 1962-63 for expenditure on employment-giving activities.

The Loan Council agreed that the borrowing programmes of the States and of their authorities for 1962-63 should both be increased by $15m. It was also agreed that smaller State authorities should each be permitted to borrow an additional $200,000 in the remainder of 1962-63. 14th February 1963

The Commonwealth undertook, to provide additional assistance grants totalling $10m to the States in 1962-63 for expenditure on employmentgiving activities, these grants being in addition to the grants totalling $25m for the same purpose agreed upon at the June 1962 Premiers' Conference, i.oan Council meeting.

The Loan Council agreed to increase the States' works and housing programmes for 1962-63 by $10m and the borrowing programmes for larger State authorities for 1962-63 by $12m, including a special allocation of $2m to Queensland. It also agreed that smaller State authorities should .be permitted to borrow in excess of $200,000 in 1962-63, provided the excess was included in borrowings against the programs for larger authorities.

The main features of new Commonwealth Aid Roads grants arrangements, to replace those which were to expire on 30th June 1964 and to apply over the period 1964-65 to 1968-69, were agreed upon. 16rh February 1967

It was agreed that the formula used to calculate the financial assistance grants would be altered so as to reduce the time-lag before increases in average wages were reflected in the grants - specifically, the increase in average wages used in calculating the financial assistance grants for 1966-67 and subsequent years would be that for the 12 months ended March in the year of payment instead of that for the 12 months immediately preceding the year of payment. This change had the effect of increasing the financial assistance grants by approximately $6.8m in 1966-67.

The Commonwealth also agreed to pay special revenue assistance of $Sm to the States in 1966-67. 1314th March 1969

New Commonwealth Aid Roads arrangements, to replace those which were to expire on 30th June 1969 and to apply over the period 1969-70 to 1973- 74, were announced.

The Commonwealth undertook to provide special revenue assistance of $12m to the States in 1968-69. 26th February 1970

The Commonwealth outlined, in general terms, its proposals on the new general revenue grants arrangements between the Commonwealth and the States which should replace those which had applied over the period 1965-66 to 1969-70. The details of these proposals .were settled at the June 1970 Premiers' Conference.

The Commonwealth confirmed an undertaking given at the November 1969 Premiers' Conference that, in the event of States' receipts duties being found invalid by the High Court in some or all respects, it would introduce legislation to impose a like tax for the benefit of the States. 4th February 1971

The Commonwealth agreed to meet the States again in April to discuss their financial positions. (At the April Conference, the Commonwealth agreed to provide additional revenue assistance of $43m in

1970- 71.)

Nth February 1972

The Commonwealth undertook to provide special revenue assistance of $15m to the States in 1971-72, this being in addition to special assistance for the year agreed at the June 1971 Premiers' Conference.

The Commonwealth announced that it would provide a special loan of $17. 5m to New South Wales in

1971- 72.

The Commonwealth also undertook to increase the monthly rate of payment of grants for the relief of non-metropolitan unemployment, resulting in an increase of $1 1.25m in these grants in 1971-72.

The Loin Council agreed that the State works and housing programs for 1971-72 should be increased by $32m.

The Loan Council also agreed to an increase of $10m in the borrowing programs of larger State authorities for 1971-72.

(3)   The table below shows the appropriate percentage increases. It should be noted that due to changes in the methods of estimation and of seasonal adjustment of average weekly earnings, the percentage changes for the periods 1954 to 1961, 1962 to 1966, 1967 to 1971 and 1972 are not fully comparable. See Labour Report No. 53, 1967, page 248; No. 55, 1970, pages 121 to 123; No. 56, 1971, pages 113 to 114; and Average Weekly Earnings, December Quarter 1972, Reference No. 6.18.







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