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Wednesday, 13 March 2013
Page: 1915

Goods and Services Tax

Mr WILKIE (Denison) (14:22): My question is to the Prime Minister, but I encourage the opposition leader to, on indulgence, also respond on this important matter.

The SPEAKER: That is for me to decide.

Mr WILKIE: Prime Minister, will you commit that if the Labor Party wins this year's federal election there will be no reduction in Tasmania's share of GST revenue?

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:23): I thank the member for Denison for his question. I can absolutely affirm to the member for Denison that we support the principle of horizontal fiscal equalisation—a dreadful three-word term, I know. But what it means is that states like Tasmania get distributions to them out of the GST pool, because states like Tasmania, with a limited economic base and tending to have a more disadvantaged population, need more resources at their disposal in order to equitably provide services like health and education. The horizontal fiscal equalisation principle is there so that, no matter where you live in this great country of ours, whether it is in Tasmania or the heart of Sydney's CBD, you have the ability to access services of an equal standard. That would not be possible unless there was that distribution to states like Tasmania, and we absolutely endorse that and stand by it. And I can verify that all of my Tasmanian colleagues—the member for Bass, the member for Braddon, the member for Franklin and the member for Lyons—are making that crystal clear to their communities. I can absolutely assure the member of that.

I can understand why he is concerned about this matter, because the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition are on the public record endorsing in various ways the claims of Liberal premiers that there should be a per capita distribution of GST. If that were to occur, Tasmania would lose at least $600 million from its budget. That is the equivalent of Tasmania losing $1,200 for every man, woman and child in the state of Tasmania. That is obviously a reduction in support that the Tasmanian community could not withstand, but that appears to be the policy of the Leader of the Opposition from his public statements: take $600 million out of Tasmania and reduce services to the amount of $1,200 per man, woman and child. And that is before you get to the very direct cutbacks that the Leader of the Opposition has publicly announced, like cutting away the schoolkids bonus, taking away the benefits of the tax-free threshold, cutting into schools—

The SPEAKER: The Prime Minister will return to the question.

Ms GILLARD: cutting into trade training centres, health care and the like. I can understand the member's concern. The people of Tasmania are concerned. We, of course, will continue to support the people of Tasmania. It is a very good question for the Leader of the Opposition, and one he cannot give the same answer to.

The SPEAKER: And one I am not going to give him indulgence to answer because this is question time. There are other avenues—

Ms Julie Bishop interjecting

The SPEAKER: The Deputy Leader of the Opposition is warned!