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Friday, 25 May 1973
Page: 2694


Mr Whitlam - by leave - The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) asked me in question time about this matter, and since then he has let me have a copy of the amendments which he will move in Committee. Three of them suggest the insertion of the words 'after consultation with the appropriate Minister of the State concerned' in the relevant clauses of the Bill. We will accept those words which he proposes to insert in those clauses. At this stage might I say that I would still like to consider the fourth amendment . . .

This amendment is one of the 'three' to which the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) referred. The fourth amendment is one which will come later. I will not go on with it now. The Government now is not proposing to accept what was then the fourth amendment but will accept this amendment which I have moved.

Mr Whitlam - You are now moving No. 4 on your list.

Mr N H Bowen (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) -I am moving No. 4 alone. This amendment goes some way to requiring, by inserting it in the legislation, that there will be consultation with the appropriate Minister of the State in which the local government region is situated, as was stated by the Prime Minister in his second reading speech. The objection which the Opposition had to this Bill was the way in which the States were bypassed by permitting these regions which were approved to apply direct and not through the States for a section 96 grant to the States. Then the grant is made by the Commonwealth Government and it goes, using the State government as it were as post office, to the region concerned. This I think is fairly described as bypassing the States. I spoke on this matter at the second reading stage of the Bill and I will not expatiate on what I said then. But I just want to make it clear that so far as the Opposition is concerned the insertion of these words will go some distance at least to requiring the legislation to bring into consultation the States which have the prime responsibility in respect of local government. It will not entirely cure the situation which the Grants Commission Bill will create in regard to bypassing the States concerned but it is at least an improvement on the position from our point of view. I understand that this amendment will not be opposed by the Government.

Amendment agreed to.

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