The Abbott government seems to be trying to force the states to campaign for a hike in the GST, the Queensland premier says.
The Queensland premier has accused the Abbott government of using the budget as a plot to force the states to campaign for a GST rise.
State and territory leaders are in open revolt, saying the federal budget has handed them back primary funding responsibility for schools and hospitals but not the means to pay for it.
Tuesday’s budget cemented the transfer of responsibilities, but also included $80 billion in cuts to school and hospital funding to state and territory governments.
Queensland’s Premier Campbell Newman has demanded Tony Abbott convene an emergency COAG meeting, and accused the prime minister of keeping state leaders in the dark about the changes until budget night.
“We had a COAG meeting only the other day in Canberra. Frankly, I’m disappointed these sorts of moves were not discussed,” Mr Newman told reporters on Wednesday.
He says he’s already spoken to NSW Premier Mike Baird, Victoria’s Denis Napthine, South Australia’s Jay Weatherill and Northern Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles, and they intend to meet separately before any meeting with the prime minister.
Mr Newman said the changes appear to be part of a plot to force the states to campaign for a rise in the GST.
“The GST is like a political wedge the government is playing, and frankly I think most of the first ministers that I’ve spoken to – well the first ministers I’ve spoken to are pretty annoyed about that.”
Treasurer Joe Hockey has told the states they’ll need to become advocates for a GST rise if they want more money to cope with their funding responsibilities.
“If they want to increase funding in their areas of responsibility then they’ve got to run the argument on the GST,” Mr Hockey said on Wednesday.
Mr Newman said Mr Hockey’s comments about the GST had particularly annoyed him.
“This is not about the GST. This should not be about some political wedge,” he said.
“This is about a fair share of the income tax that mums and dads in Queensland pay coming back to fund their hospitals and their schools. They deserve that, they deserve nothing less.”
Mr Newman said recent improvements to Queensland’s hospital services could be undone unless more money flows back to the state, including improvements to emergency department and surgery waiting times.
He said he wanted to meet with Mr Abbott as soon as possible.
“This will not go away. It is not going to be taken lying down. States and territories will pursue this matter,” he said.