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GST division in Labor as politicians return to Canberra -

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ELEANOR HALL: Staying in the political capital, as federal politicians return to Canberra for a new parliamentary sittings of this election year, they're already facing pressure from two Premiers to increase the GST.

The Federal Government has not yet put forward a proposal to raise the Goods and Services Tax.

But the Federal Labor Party has vowed to oppose any increase and that is now creating internal divisions.

Political reporter Tom Iggulden has more from Canberra.

TOM IGGULDEN: On a dreary Canberra morning, the airport was bustling with politicians, like South Australian Labor front Bencher Penny Wong returning to Parliament, from their long winter break.

PENNY WONG: It's good to be back in Canberra glad to see the weather is as welcoming as always.

TOM IGGULDEN: On the weekend, South Australian Labor Premier Jay Weatherill reiterated his call for an increase in the GST, while criticising what he described as an incoherent plan from Federal Labor to fill a gap in school funding for states.

PENNY WONG: Jay is doing what you would anticipate a Labor Premier to do is which is to argue for more funding for health and more funding for education.

TOM IGGULDEN: Others in Labor are less forgiving.

Opposition defence spokesman Stephen Conroy is challenging Mr Weatherill to call a state election on the GST, despite the state having fixed parliamentary terms.

STEPHEN CONROY: Jay Weatherill went to the last election in South Australia campaigning against a GST. He said he would never support an increase in the GST.

TOM IGGULDEN: Queensland Labor frontbencher Jim Chalmers is more concerned about Mr Weatherill's attack on opposition leader Bill Shorten's claims of how he would fund $37 billion worth of education spending he's committed to under the Gonksi school improvement plan.

JIM CHALMERS: He's entirely wrong about the funding of Labor's plan to improve every school in the country, entirely wrong about the detail that we've put out there.

We've put out tens of billions of dollars in savings, more than any opposition for some time.

TOM IGGULDEN: Premier Weatherill's remarks are threatening to undermine the core of Labor's election-year strategy - a year in which it starts well behind the Government according to another disappointing Newspoll for the Opposition out today.

Mr Chalmers says he’s not despondent about today's poll numbers.

JIM CHALMERS: Not at all, I think it's great that we are in the election year now, Australian have got a really simple choice. They can either choose better schools or they can choose a higher GST.

TOM IGGULDEN: But the Treasurer Scott Morrison is already making the most of Mr Weatherill's comments on the GST.

SCOTT MORRISON: His motive in this debate is to try and do something right for his state.

Bill Shorten's latest economics on this is all about trying to do something right for him politically. His motive is political, it's not driven by policy.

TOM IGGULDEN: As for Mr Shorten...

BILL SHORTEN: A 15 per cent GST on everything is wrong, wrong, wrong.

TOM IGGULDEN: He's focused on Newspoll numbers showing just over half of voters are against a rise in the GST.

BILL SHORTEN: We see more and more evidence that Australians aren't buying the snake oil of Mr Turnbull and his Liberals who want to put a 15 per cent tax on everything so that they can hand a tax cut to big business.

TOM IGGULDEN: But the poll numbers also showed a significant undecided proportion of the population, and worryingly for Labor, almost 40 per cent of respondents said they'd support a rise in the GST.

The Treasurer says the poll numbers are not what he's focused on.

SCOTT MORRISON: I'm no stranger to causes that don't enjoy popular support. I remember for five years, I campaigned heavily on what were very unpopular measures, whether it was on turn-backs or other things.

And the surveys were against it and all the rest of it but I believed it was right for the country.

TOM IGGULDEN: Despite the tough talk though, the Treasurer is not yet proposing a GST rise as he continues meetings with state premiers to try and overcome objections.

SCOTT MORRISON: Our own position on that will continue to advance as we hold our own meetings and work through those issues as a government.

TOM IGGULDEN: New South Wales Premier Mike Baird is proposing a tweak to his original idea that state government's get the biggest share of any extra GST revenue.

He's now suggesting the Federal Government gets most of the initial revenue boost before a review of the system in 2020, after Canberra's had a chance to pay for cuts to income and company taxes.

Mr Morrison is sounding open to that idea.

SCOTT MORRISON: The idea of raising taxes just for more spending, I mean that's really what Labor does, it's something that we are not particularly attracted to when it comes to this tax and spend.

We want to see a tax system that's growth friendly.

TOM IGGULDEN: Labor's not pinning all of its election year hopes on an anti-GST campaign, with plenty of divisions within the Government over everything to Liberal Party pre-selections to a succession plan for Nationals leader Warren Truss.

Labor front bencher Tony Burke was playing up such divisions on his arrival into Canberra this morning.

TONY BURKE: I've come in here today to Canberra ready for a big political fight with Malcolm Turnbull. Unfortunately about half of his own party is coming here for the same reason.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Labor frontbencher Tony Burke ending that story from Tom Iggulden in Canberra.