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Distribution of the GST

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Tags: GST, Treasury

That the House –

  1. Notes state Treasurers will meet in October 2018 to decide whether to support changes to the distribution of the GST.
  2. Recognises the current GST distribution model ensures that all jurisdictions can provide similar quality public services, such as health and education, which all citizens can enjoy regardless of where they live.
  3. Agrees any move away from full horizontal fiscal equalisation would reduce the level of equity between the states and territories and disadvantage Tasmania.
  4. Further agrees that all members of parliament should be fully informed about the implications of the proposed changes to the GST distribution model and the impact this will have on Tasmania.
  5. Calls on the Treasurer, Hon Peter Gutwein MP, to facilitate a briefing for all members of state parliament from the state Department of Treasury on the federal government's GST policy before the state Treasurers' meeting in October 2018.


Ms O'CONNOR (Denison - Leader of the Greens) - Mr Deputy Speaker, the Greens will support this motion because we are here for Tasmania and its people and for the fair and equitable distribution of the nation's GST amongst the states and making sure the smaller states are not disadvantaged. It is ironic that the Treasurer wants to hear what I have to say and is offering to respond to any of the points I raise. It is unusual for the Treasurer to be civil in response to points we Greens raise on matters of state significance, so I do not expect to hear any meaningful response from him on any of the points I raise, particularly today when he has been so offensive in this place.

There is a question hanging over GST distribution to Tasmania. There is no question that there is huge uncertainty over what a Morrison government means for Tasmania's future GST. I do not think any person in Tasmania would have been comforted by the story that was obviously leaked to the Mercury, probably by someone in the Treasurer's office, the other day where we were told about the tussle between Scott Morrison and Peter Gutwein. Apparently somebody swore and it was undoubtedly leaked to the Mercury quite deliberately from inside government in order to make the next Premier of Tasmania look good and look like he is standing up for Tasmania. We hear that Mr Morrison apparently told the Tasmanian Treasurer that he is an 'effing mendicant', which is another term for a beggar.

Mr O'Byrne - Remarkable, is it not?

Ms O'CONNOR - Yes, quite remarkable language.

Mr O'Byrne - The boy from the shots. That is right.

Ms O'CONNOR - That is right, for someone who is -

Mr O'Byrne - Eminently plausible.

Ms O'CONNOR - What is that?

Mr O'Byrne - Eminently plausible.

Ms O'CONNOR - Definitely plausible. I cannot miss this opportunity to raise in the House that horror show that came out of question time last week, where we see this clip of Liberal members raising their hands to privilege and to having money. It was the most tone deaf, arrogant, disgusting display to come out of federal parliament in a while - and that is really saying something. So out of touch is Scott Morrison and his office, and indeed I would argue the entire federal Liberal/National party, that they actually thought that would go down well. If people do not remember anything else about Scott Morrison as Prime Minister - we are a visual animal and we remember symbols - people will remember that clip when they go into the ballot box. I certainly hope they do because it spoke volumes about the contempt that the conservatives who currently occupy the government benches in Canberra hold for people who do not have vast wealth.

None of us will forget Joe Hockey's 'lifters and leaners'. No person who has ever struggled to have enough money to feed their family or pay their rent or pay the electricity bill, no person who has worked hard, got an apprenticeship, is in a trade; nobody who has done it tough in this country will forget that we had a federal Liberal Treasurer who reduced people to units of production. That is what we are dealing with in Canberra.

State Treasurers will meet in October 2018 to support changes to the distribution of the GST. That is the big problem that we have here - we have no idea what is being proposed in real terms for a change and any change to the GST in this climate will be driven by brute politics, a looming federal election, the fact that Western Australia has more federal seats of more concern to the federal Liberal Party, the fact that Tasmanians overwhelmingly at the last federal election rejected what the federal conservatives stand for. They rejected their hollow jobs and growth slogan which contained no human aspect whatsoever and overwhelmingly rejected the Liberals from the House of Representatives in Tasmania.

Fortunately, in their wisdom, the Tasmanian people got rid of Brett Whiteley from Braddon, Andrew Nikolic from Bass and what's his name from Lyons. What was his name?

Mr O'Byrne - Hutchinson.

Ms O'CONNOR - Eric Hutchinson from Lyons. So there is not a strong voice in the federal cabinet now arguing for Tasmania and Tasmania's share of GST. If Senator Richard Colbeck is that voice he is on his own, as we know, because he does not fall in Senator Eric Abetz's camp. That is true, as you are aware.

This entire House should be alarmed at the circumstances that we find ourselves in with a new Prime Minister, who has made it clear that he regards Tasmania as of lesser concern, expendable, mendicant. Is it not ironic that the real mendicant state now when you have a look at the national stage is in fact Western Australia?

We agree that the current GST distribution model ensures that all jurisdictions can provide similar quality public services such as health and education. We should put housing in there because it will not always be the case that you have a federal government that callously walks away from its responsibility to invest in the supply of social and affordable housing in the states. The GST distribution model ensures that all citizens can enjoy being treated equally regardless of where they live, which state they choose to live in.

The Greens agree that any move away from full horizontal fiscal equalization would reduce the level of equity between the states and territories and disadvantage Tasmania.

We would like a briefing from the Department of Treasury and Finance who I always appreciate the opportunity to hear from. That should be a matter that the Treasurer is comfortable to facilitate.

All members of both Houses should be invited to hear what Treasury's assessment of the risk is. We should have a clear understanding of the position that Tasmania is taking to the ministerial council, and we should be able to all stand together, as Ms White says, in a tripartisan way in order to defend what is, at this point, a relatively fair and equitable distribution of GST.

We will be supporting the motion. I thank Ms White for bringing it on and probably would not be telling the truth if I said I was looking for the Treasurer's contribution.