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Wednesday, 17 May 1972
Page: 1755

Senator WRIEDT (Tasmania) - 1 dare say that a non-Queenslander has only limited rights even to enter this debate. It was not my intention to do so, but I was prompted to take part in it by the Minister's reply to the second reading debate. As a Tasmanian I also am interested in the operation of the Commonwealth Grants Commission. My contribution to the debate will be short but I will be introducing, I hope, new material. I want to make this point: I think the Minister in his reply said that the purpose of the Commonwealth Grants Commission was to give a fair and equal opportunity to all the States, or words to that effect. I think that was the intention of what he said. I have said before in the Senate that Tasmania, Queensland and South Australia do not get equal treatment with the other States under the present structure of the Grants Commission. There are 3 principal sources from which the States can obtain finance for their development. Firstly they can get it through Commonwealth-State loans and grants; secondly, through Commonwealth departmental spending, which this year is in excess of $3 billion; and thirdly, through private investment in the various States. The 3 States that I have mentioned include Queensland. I am disappointed that no honourable senator on either side has made this point. It is in this area that those 3 States are missing out. It is not the responsibility of the Grants Commission to take these factors into account. Until the Grants Commission or some other authority is instituted to look at all the relevant factors concerning the development of the States, these disabilities will apply in the 3 States that I have mentioned - Tasmania, Queensland and South Australia.

Let me give a quick instance of this. In the 12 months to June 1971, 74 per cent of private investment in secondary industry in Australia went to Victoria and New South Wales, which have only 63 per cent of the population. Tasmania, with 3 per cent of the population, received 1.5 per cent of that investment. 1 cannot remember from the top of my head the figures for South Australia and Queensland, but South Australia was second last and Queensland was third last. In other words, Tasmania was sixth, South Australia was fifth and Queensland was fourth.

Last year the Department of Supply built at a cost of $1.7m in Melbourne, of all places, a factory for the production of clothes for the armed forces. This is the sort of establishment that should have been built in Queensland, South Australia or Tasmania. Until the Grants Commission or the Commonwealth realises that all these factors are relevant to the development of these States, there will always be this disparity. To talk in terms of $9m for Queensland is a laugh. Queensland, tike Tasmania and South Australia, needs a lot more than $9m. If honourable senators total the level of private investment in the 3 States that are winning - New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia - they will find that 87 per cent of private investment in secondary industry is going into those 3 States, leaving only 13 per cent for the other 3 States. Is it any wonder that those States are not able to keep up with Victoria and New South Wales? The Grants Commission is falling down on its job, mainly because the Commonwealth has never recognised this fact. That is why the 3 States I have mentioned - Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania - will continue to be mendicant States for years on end. I wanted to take the opportunity to make that point.

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