I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for State/Local Government Relations a question on the subject of Local Government Grants Commission funding.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The minister wrote to me (and, I assume, all honourable members) on 25 August in relation to the Local Government Grants Commission funding. In one of the paragraphs, he advised the following: ...the Commonwealth advised that there was an underpayment of $0.6 million in the 2010-2011 grants due to the difference between CPI and population estimates made at the beginning of last financial year and the actual outcome.
My questions are: is the minister concerned that South Australia's loss of regional status will reduce local government funding directed to it as population falls, and does he have a strategy to manage this issue?
The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY (Minister for Industrial Relations, Minister for State/Local Government Relations) (14:34): I thank the honourable member for her question. Yes, you are right; I did send a letter out to all members of parliament to inform them of the results of the local government grants. The formula which regulates the money that goes out to councils is reviewed every now and again and a number of things are taken into consideration. Population would be one of them, so I imagine there could be a review in the coming year. There are a number of factors, and population is one of them. It has to be constantly reviewed because circumstances change, so that may have an impact on the grants.
The PRESIDENT: The Hon. Ms Lensink has a supplementary question.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (14:35): Does the minister have a strategy to address that issue?
The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY (Minister for Industrial Relations, Minister for State/Local Government Relations) (14:35): At the moment I do not have a strategy at the back of my mind to help with the population growth. Confidential and Subject to Revision
The Hon. J.M.A. Lensink interjecting:
The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY: No, there are a number of factors taken into consideration. You ask me a question and you start laughing. This is how ridiculous it is. There are a number of factors which contribute to the local government grant. You mentioned population. I am saying right at this moment that I don't have a strategy to increase our population.
There are a lot of ways of doing it—immigration intakes. There are a lot of ways of doing that, but that is more of a federal issue. I will say this, though: if there is anything I can do to improve the status and to help local government and councils to get more grants, I will be quite happy to participate.
The PRESIDENT: The Hon. Ms Lensink has a further supplementary question.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (14:36): Did the minister actually read the letter before he signed it?
The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY (Minister for Industrial Relations, Minister for State/Local Government Relations) (14:36): Of course I read it. I signed it; I read the letter. It says population. There are a number of issues which may affect these grants. Population is one of them, and that is why I mentioned it. I do not have a strategy on me at the moment to improve our population strategy. I do not think anyone in this chamber has, but in saying that, if there are ways I can help increase the population, I will be quite happy to help.