Richard Court

Richard Court

-

    Premier welcomes Canberra's agreement on salinity

    3/11/2000 1:31 PM
     
    3/11/00

    Premier Richard Court says there has been a mixed outcome from today’s Council of Australian Governments meeting in Canberra today.

    Mr Court said there had been a significant development in the strategy to combat salinity, with the Prime Minister agreeing that the Commonwealth would provide funding to the States for compensation to be paid as a result of clearing bans on natural vegetation which had been implemented in areas such as Western Australia to tackle the problem.

    Mr Court said the agreement on salinity was good news for Western Australia.

    “The breakthrough has occurred with the Commonwealth’s willingness to contribute to the issue of clearing ban compensation - as an addition to the $700 million package,” he said.

    “The $700 million funding will be distributed on a ‘needs’ basis and WA will likely get double the amount it would have using the traditional population formula.”

    Mr Court said he was disappointed at the Commonwealth Government’s decision not to support the proposal to remove the GST ‘spike’ in the February fuel excise CPI increase.

    The States and Territories had been united in their call for the one-off ‘freeze’ in the excise as a short-term measure to provide relief from high fuel prices.

    “If this relief is not to be provided, the least the Federal Government can do is put the money into road funding, as the motorists are paying this tax,” the Premier said.

    He said he was, however, encouraged at the Prime Minister’s decision to support the proposal for Premiers to work together in developing a long-term energy policy for Australia, based on making the most of the nation’s abundant energy reserves.

    A Premiers’ Conference incorporating this initiative will be held in the first six months of next year.

    “While it is important that we look at ways to try to provide some immediate relief from the current fuel price spike, we also need to demonstrate a vision for reducing our nation’s reliance on petrol,” Mr Court said.

    “It’s just common sense for us to increase the benefit we get from our enormous reserves of natural gas.

    “Not only is it a premium fuel, it also has the double benefit of being cleaner, which will reduce pollution levels and also lower greenhouse gas emissions.”

    Media contact: Casey Cahill 9222 9455