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Wednesday, 2 October 1974
Page: 1587

Senator WRIEDT (Tasmania) (Minister for Agriculture) - I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

The purpose of this Bill is to authorise the payment of additional financial assistance grants to the State of Tasmania. It provides for the payment of an amount of $ 15m in addition to the financial assistance grants otherwise payable to the State in 1974-75 and for the incorporation of this amount into the 'base' for purposes of calculating the grants payable to the State under the formula in 1975-76 and subsequent years. The decision to provide an additional financial assistance grant to Tasmania followed a request by the Premier of Tasmania at the June Premiers Conference this year for discussions with the Australian Government to consider the possibility of his State withdrawing from the special grants system. Following such discussions it was agreed that the revisions to the State's entitlement under the financial assistance grants arrangements which I have outlined would be appropriate to enable such a withdrawal. It was also agreed with the State that the Grants Commission would be asked not to recommend final adjusting payments- known as completion grants- in respect of the 'advance' payments of the special grants made to the State, on the recommendation of the Commission in 1972-73 and 1973-74. This request has been conveyed to the Commission.

Turning to the details of the Bill, the first 3 clauses are of a machinery nature. Clause 4 of the Bill provides for the amendment of the States Grant Act 1973 -the legislation which at present authorises the payment of financial assistance grants to the States- by the insertion of a new section 6a to follow section 6. The first subclause of the new section 6a specifies that during 1974-75 there will be payable to Tasmania an amount of $ 15m in addition to the amount payable under section 6. The second sub-clause of the new section provides for the additional amount of $15m to be included in the base amount for calculation of grants payable to Tasmania in subsequent years under the formula laid down in section 6. 1 commend the Bill to the Senate.

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