Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt says the Productivity Commission review into GST distribution announced should not be used as an excuse for the Turnbull government to discriminate against Queensland and cut federal funding levels.
“The Turnbull Government must not abandon the principle that distributions from the GST pool should recognise the different circumstances and demands among states and territories while ensuring they can all deliver similar levels of service,” Mr Pitt said.
“References in the proposed review to potential ‘reforms’ in state revenue raising should not be used to force states into asset sales, or force states and territories to introduce new and additional taxes of their own as the Prime Minister has previously suggested.
“In other words, the review should not be used as an excuse for the federal government to offload its responsibilities and cost shift to Queensland taxpayers – we will not stand for that.
“We currently have an independent Commonwealth Grants Commission that assesses the needs of all states and determines a formula for GST distribution that recognises different abilities and challenges across states and territories.
“For example, Queensland is a vast and heavily decentralised state and deserves additional funding to overcome the higher costs of delivering services in regional, rural, and remote locations.
“The review must not abandon that sort of approach which enables us to deliver services and infrastructure to Queenslanders wherever they live.
“This is critical for the ongoing development of regional Queensland.”
Mr Pitt said Queensland and other states had not been consulted in detail on the review or its terms of reference.
“This approach is not good enough,” he said.
“Clearly we need to closely examine the terms of reference and seek further advice on what the Commonwealth seeks to achieve by this Productivity Commission review into horizontal fiscal equalisation.
“I am concerned it may be used as a chance for the LNP to revisit arguments used by their own members and One Nation at the time of the recent WA election that would have seen an ad hoc approach taken to stripping funds from Queensland and giving them to WA.
“In the WA election Senator Pauline Hanson wanted funds taken from Queensland and given to WA.
“The review should not be used as cover for the LNP to cosy up further to One Nation and make more cuts to federal funding for Queensland.
“Queensland will not tolerate any such moves.”
Mr Pitt said a 2012 review of horizontal fiscal equalisation found the current system was fundamentally sound and questions the motivation of the Turnbull Government, including a drive to cut funding from key service delivery areas such as health, education and housing.