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Extract from interview with Petrice Judge, Assistant Director General, Federal and Constitutional Affairs in the Ministry of Premier and Cabinet, Western Australia.
CF Can you tell me about the way in which the money is negotiated for the States? How do you go about the negotiations with the Commonwealth?

JUDGE: The negotiations are led by officials within my team which is Federal Constitutional Affairs. We would establish what is the West Australian position on a negotiation and we work with officials from other departments so we have an across-government position. Then we go off to Commonwealth/State meetings and they're always held in the eastern States so involve two days of travel for poor old West Australians to attend.

We get there and we will find that often there has been an allegiance formed between Sydney, Melbourne and the Commonwealth officials, and so they will in a large part drive the agenda and we may find that perhaps there's been a secret deal done.

A good example would be of Medicare negotiations. The Commonwealth did a secret deal with Victoria and New South Wales which involved an efficiency dividend. That money that was given in addition to New South Wales and Victoria was to come out of the amount that was to go to the rest of the States. We were not very happy with that but we find that we're very much powerless to really stand up for our rights and say, "Well perhaps we should be getting our fair share of this." The deal has already been done. Those are the more populated States and they seem to in some way be gaining to the detriment particularly of Western Australia.

The other thing that happens is that when there is some Commonwealth money that's available for them to distribute directly to various State projects we find that less than 10% comes to Western Australia. We would expect on a per capita basis that we should be entitled to about 10% of any money that's going, and we don't necessarily get that.

Petrice Judge, February 2000
[Battye Library, OH3014]

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