State and territory leaders will meet in Sydney on Sunday to decide how they will respond to the Abbott government’s budget cuts.
The battle lines have been drawn and the states are preparing for war.
NSW Premier Mike Baird will host a crisis meeting in Sydney with his state and territory counterparts on Sunday to come up with a “collective response” to the Abbott government’s massive budget cuts.
The premiers are fuming that $80 billion of federal cash has been stripped from their schools and hospitals over the next 10 years.
They say they will struggle to find money in their own budgets to plug the funding hole.
Mr Baird says he’s determined to fight for his state and won’t go easy on the federal government.
“I am here to represent the people of NSW – I’m not here to represent a political badge,” the Liberal premier said.
There’s speculation the budget cuts will force the states to call for an increase of the GST rate or a widening of its base.
But Mr Baird has refused to confirm whether the GST will be on the agenda on Sunday.
Instead, he’s repeated calls to “quarantine” a portion of income tax revenue collected by the Commonwealth for the states to help fund state services.
Mr Baird spoke briefly to Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Thursday morning about the budget cuts and says he’s confident a solution will be found.
“I have a good relationship with him,” Mr Baird said of the prime minister, who is his occasional surfing buddy on Sydney’s northern beaches.
“But we’re not going to agree on everything.”
All state and territory leaders are expected at Sunday’s meeting, except for West Australian Premier Colin Barnett.
It’s still to be decided whether he will appear via video link, or send someone to represent WA.