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Commonwealth Government Records about Tasmania


2. Commonwealth–Tasmanian financial relations

Tasmania holds a special place in Commonwealth–state relations. Because of Tasmania, a concession to the smaller states was built into the constitutional document that set the rules for the very beginning of the Australian Commonwealth. A renowned Tasmanian Premier and champion of federation, Sir Edward Braddon, led the campaign for what became an eponymous clause, no. 87. The Braddon clause required the Commonwealth, when exercising one of its new powers (the exclusive power over customs, excise, and bounties, section 90) return three-quarters of the resultant revenue to the states. Due to opposition from the larger states who saw the clause as the 'Braddon blot', the requirement was limited to the first 10 years of federation. Yet Tasmania's relative situation did not change greatly for the better, though it was not for want of effort or investigation. Over the following nine decades, there were 75 reports into Tasmania's economic situation, the 20th century closing with The Nixon Report: Tasmania into the 21st century. Report to the Prime Minister of Australia and the Premier of Tasmania, July 1997.

In some ways, Tasmania's financial relationship with the Commonwealth has followed that of all other states. Thus there are records of interest generated by the Loan Council, Inter-State Commission, premiers' conferences and Commonwealth Grants Commission. And when, like other Australian states, Tasmania has required one-off help due to disasters or special circumstances, it has benefited from Commonwealth assistance. Less typically, however, it has also elicited help through inquiries and because of conditions such as its location and unique array of natural resources. It has also helped too that Tasmania has had more than its share of independently minded senators able to influence the balance of power. Inevitably, all these aspects of financial relations, some common to all states and others specific to Tasmania, have resulted in Commonwealth records. A broad outline of those judged especially revealing is provided in this chapter.


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Chapter 2
Commonwealth–Tasmanian financial relations