Treasurer Joe Hockey has met with his state and territory counterparts in Cairns ahead of this weekend’s G20 finance ministers meeting.
Don’t stand between state treasurers and funding from the Commonwealth.
Liberal treasurers have lashed out at the Senate for trying to block the Commonwealth’s $5 billion infrastructure building initiative.
But federal treasurer Joe Hockey has assured his state and territory counterparts at a meeting in Cairns on Friday they will have access to the asset recycling initiative “no matter what”.
The last time the nation’s treasurers met in March, Mr Hockey struck a deal that would provide financial initiatives to build billions of dollars of infrastructure across the country.
It encourages states to sell-off public assets and direct the proceeds into new productive infrastructure, such as roads, in a bid to create jobs and lift economic growth.
The initiative was opposed in the Senate.
But Mr Hockey said the money is now being appropriated, bypassing the Senate’s objections.
“The money is going to flow for asset recycling no matter what,” he said.
He warned that if the infrastructure is not built, unemployment is going to be higher in Australia and the economy is going to be less productive.
Queensland treasurer Tim Nicholls thanked Mr Hockey for his re-affirmation that the program will go ahead.
NSW treasurer Andrew Constance agreed the scheme is important.
“This is the way in which state economies can be transformed,” he told reporters.
He attacked Labor, the Palmer United Party and the Greens for trying to block the initiative.
“To see the Senate behave in this way is incredibly disappointing,” he said.
Victorian treasurer Michael O’Brien said all you hear from Labor and the Greens is the need to increase funding for public transport.
“Well, I can tell you the asset recycling imitative will be invested in the Melbourne rail link project, it will be invested in the Melbourne airport link project,” he said.
South Australian treasurer Tom Koutsantonis said it was the first opportunity state treasurers had to talk about the full impact of Mr Hockey’s $80 billion worth of cuts in health and education state funding, in his May budget.
“They are dramatic … the affects are being felt across the country,” he said.
But he said his concerns “are falling on deaf ears”.
International Monetary Fund boss Christine Lagarde addressed the meeting, giving an update on the global environment.
Ms Lagarde and Mr Hockey are in Cairns for this weekend’s G20 finance ministers meeting.