Premier in Print

THE EFFECTS of Cyclone Steve are bing felt in areas from Kununurra to Esperance. And, once again, just as they did after Cyclones Elaine and Vance this time last year, government agencies and community groups have swung into action immediately to help the people hit by the latest disaster.

Moves were made quickly to have essential services restored as soon as possible and provide emergency relief including temporary accommodation, food and water for families whose homes were under water.

The government has also put a relief package in place including providing payments for households to replace or repair essential items and funding local authorities to restore local roads.

Determined efforts are being made to have businesses back in operation as soon as possible and we have announced a plan for topsoil replacement for plantation and market gardeners in Carnarvon.

Looking to the future, we have also started work on developing a Floodplain Management Plan for Carnarvon to find a better way to control floodwaters.

IT WAS interesting to see the latest figures on health spending in WA over recent years.

Over the first six financial years of the Coalition Government, the actual expenditure in health budget has grown from $1.296 billion in 1993-94 to $1.764 billion in 1998-99, with the current year estimated to be around $1.85 billion.

That’s an average annual growth of about 6.9 per cent – compared with the last three years of the Labor Government when health expenditure grew by an average of only 3.8 per cent a year.

According to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics report on Government Financial Estimates for 1998-99, our State also spends more on health than any other State, with WA spending $885 per capita compared with the national average of $814 per capita.

THE new Ministerial Council of Commonwealth, State and Territory Treasurers met for the first time in Canberra on 17 March.

The council, which has a wide range of functions including overseeing the implementation of the GST, was established as part of the tax reform program and replaces the annual financial Premier’s conference.

The first meeting included particular focus on specific matters needed to implement the arrangements for the GST this year.

We expect future meetings will also address broader issues in Common-wealth-State financial relations.

There was a push at this meeting by the States and Territories to also discuss concerns about health funding.

The lack of progress on this reinforces my call for the Premiers to meet regularly to discuss issues of importance to all Australians.

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