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Wednesday, 2 May 1973
Page: 1557

Mr HALLETT (CANNING, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - Can the Treasurer clarify the position concerning the Government's proposals regarding local government finance? Will local government representation be admitted to the Australian Loan Council? If so, on what basis? Will councils have access to loan moneys raised by the Commonwealth on the same conditions as those now available to the States? Will the Treasurer also indicate the situation concerning the reported proposals for local government authorities to have access to the Commonwealth Grants Commission?

Mr CREAN (MELBOURNE PORTS, VICTORIA) (Treasurer) - The Prime Minister has for quite a long time now suggested the need better to integrate local government into the financial resources of Australia. Local government authorities have substantial functions. They have inadequate finance. Two proposals are currently under consideration. One is that there should be separate representation of local governing authorities at Austraiian Loan Council meetings. Whether it will be possible to achieve that at the next meeting, which is only one month off, is doubtful. The other proposal under consideration is an amendment of the Commonwealth Grants Commission legislation. The Grants Commission was set up under section 96 of the Constitution to make grants to the States and these grants can be made fairly freely. It is proposed that local authorities will be integrated into loan considerations. It is hoped to have the necessary amendments in this House as soon as possible but there are some difficulties about it. I simply repeat that we believe that it is a fundamental change that will shift local governing authorities from being the poor relations in the Federal system into playing a vital part and getting a better equation of finance and function in the process. We hope that a Grants Commission Bill will be introduced into this House next week and it will afford a fuller opportunity to explain the potentialities of the situation.

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