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 describe for me when the State goes to the Loan's
Forum to get money from the Commonwealth? Is it told in advance what's
going to be discussed?
JUDGE: Well you have the Financial
Premier's Conference (that's what it's called) and Loans Council. It's
a meeting back-to-back with that. Traditionally the offer that comes from
the Commonwealth about how much money is going to each Premier is slipped
under the door of the Premier's room in the early hours of the morning.
So then you have frantically all these phone calls back and forward and
these poor Treasury officials looking at the money offer to make sure
that the States can actually continue to be run. You know: what are the
implications that they're going to cut out this big amount of money for
health care and if a corresponding amount of money is supposedly having
to be spent on replacing some sort of tax? There are quite a lot of conditions
that are placed on the money that comes from the Commonwealth and it can
have big implications to each State. But you have this frantic consideration.
It's not possible for people even to read the document in the time that
they have allotted to them before they actually then have to go and have
a meaningful conversation with the Prime Minister and the Treasurer.
They did make efforts in the Hawke days of new Federalism to overcome
that and they promised that they would no longer just pass the thing under
the door on the morning. They have worked hard to try and give you the
offer in advance but for Western Australia we're always flying to the
meeting and it seems that no matter what, it is not in enough time for
us to really be able to consider it appropriately.
So you have the Premier and his party flying off and you have the Treasury
officials back here all working throughout the night trying to consider
what this means for Western Australia. Then frantic faxes back and forward
and phone calls so that the Premier is well informed when he actually
has the face-to-face meeting with the Prime Minister.
But we have had some unprecedented scenes at those financial Premiers'
meetings. Just a couple of years ago all the Premiers walked out because
they felt that the money that was being given for health just wasn't sufficient.
The Prime Minister was very reluctant to call more of those meetings because
he didn't particularly like them walking out on him.
Petrice Judge, February 2000
[Battye Library, OH3014]