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Thursday, 14 March 2013
Page: 2191

Goods and Services Tax

Mr LYONS (Bass) (14:58): My question is to the Assistant Treasurer and Minister Assisting for Deregulation. Why is it important that states and territories get their fair share of GST revenue to deliver vital education and health services for families? What are the obstacles to states, including my home state of Tasmania, getting their fair share of GST revenue in the future?

Mr BRADBURY (LindsayAssistant Treasurer and Minister Assisting for Deregulation) (14:58): I thank the member for Bass for his question. Our government believes the distribution of GST should be fair and equitable. That is why Labor supports the principle of horizontal fiscal equalisation. It means that states, like the member for Bass's home state of Tasmania, get their fair share of GST funding so that they can provide vital services in areas like health and education, just like the larger states. These are the same principles that underpinned the GST when it was introduced by the Howard government more than 10 years ago. This government will not be walking away from those principles which ensure that each and every Australian gets a fair share, regardless of where they live.

The same cannot be said for the Leader of the Opposition. Last year he flew over to Perth and told a number of journalists over there that, under the coalition, he would rip away hundreds of millions of dollars from smaller states like Tasmania and South Australia. He said:

… the GST revenue should be distributed on what is closer to a per capita arrangement.

“This is the unified position of the Coalition premiers. I think it makes a lot of sense.”

This government believes that we should govern in the interests of all Australians, not just those who live in a state that has a Liberal Premier—that is if you can keep up with who they are at any given point in time.

Under the opposition leader's plan to move towards a per capita approach to funding, he will rip away $600 million each year from Tasmania. That will mean in Tasmania less money to fund doctors and nurses in our hospitals and less money to fund teachers in our schools. But I noted yesterday that the Leader of the Opposition came forward in the chamber and said, 'Tasmania will not be worse off.' How does this work? You are either going to rip money away from Tasmania or you are going to increase the GST.

I know the Leader of the Opposition is not all that familiar with economics, but this is a simple case of mathematics. If you want to carve up a bigger slice of the GST for Western Australia then some other state is going to get a smaller slice.

Mr Hockey interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for North Sydney will remove himself from the chamber under 94(a). He went too far.

The member for North Sydney then left the chamber.

Mr BRADBURY: It is always the reference to a slice of pie that gets him going!

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: The Assistant Treasurer will withdraw.

Mr BRADBURY: I withdraw. You cannot give states like Western Australia a larger slice of the pie without leaving states like Tasmania with a smaller one. There is of course one way you can do that and that is if your real plan is to increase the GST.