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Tuesday, 1 October 1974
Page: 1504

Senator BAUME (New South Wales) - We are discussing the Sewerage Agreements Bill which is a Bill for an Act to provide financial loans to some of the States for sewerage works. We support the Bill but with the reservations which Senator Carrick has already outlined. It is worth looking at the promises specifically relating to sewerage works and the provisions of these works by a Labor government which were made before this Government came to office. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) in his 1 972 policy speech stated:

A Labor Government will immediately ask the principal water and sewerage authorities what Commonwealth grants -

I draw attention to the word 'grants '- in the present financial year would enable them to embark promptly and economically -

I emphasise the word 'economically'- on an uninterrupted program to provide services to all the premises in their areas by 1978. For subsequent financial years, the Commonwealth Grants Commission will investigate and recommend the size of Commonwealth grants -

Once again let us emphasise what Mr Whitlam was promising in the policy speech on which he was elected- required to see the program through.

This was a very specific promise of money. It was a promise of financial grants. In no way did Mr Whitlam suggest that the States would be given a series of loans which were to be repayable. The actions of the Government since it was elected do not support the promise made in that policy speech. If we look at the Budget papers which were presented in the Senate recently we find that the Budget will provide $105m during this financial year for sewerage services. This Bill refers to part of that allocation. Of course in this Bill there are 2 issues. The first is the issue of the sewerage program itself. This is a matter on which we do not disagree with anything the Government is doing in relation to the provision of sewerage programs and works which are required and the extra facilities. We support this. We are as concerned as the Government to see the new works proceed and the new facilities made available.

But the second issue central to this Bill is the method of financing. It is here that we think the States are receiving and have received a raw deal. Though this Bill refers to 3 States only, it is fair to say that the total program will take in all States. It is in the context of a program which will involve the whole country that I am speaking to this Bill and about my concern at the prospects for my State of New South Wales. In the end the central question is the debt structure of the various government bodies in Australia. What is the debt structure and how has it been altered? Senator Carrick has referred already to some of the features of the debt structure. I refer to 2 tables which I have had prepared. I seek leave to have these tables incorporated in Hansard.

Senator Devitt - What are they?

Senator BAUME - They are tables relating to the debt structure. The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Cavanagh) has a copy.

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