Tasmanian Liberals ‘onside’ in GST review

Treasurer Peter Gutwein.
Treasurer Peter Gutwein.

Tasmania’s Treasurer is confident federal Liberal representatives are onside in a fight to protect Tasmania’s interests in any change to the GST.

As the Productivity Commission investigates the GST sharing arrangements, Treasurer Peter Gutwein reiterated the view Tasmania should not lose out. 

“At the moment six out of the eight states and territories don’t want to see any change and so we’ll continue to argue that there is no change,” he said.

About $2.4 billion in GST revenue is provided to Tasmania each year.

Mr Gutwein said it made up about 40 per cent of the state budget.

“We can allocate that to the areas of greatest need,” he added.

“In Tasmania the vast majority of our budget is health and education and the large proportion will support health and education.”

Economist Saul Eslake has warned of rising taxes and slashed government spending if the GST distribution is changed to a per capita model – as pushed by larger states.

Mr Gutwein said Western Australia benefited by about $7 billion from the GST pool “when they had significantly rising mineral royalties”.

“Now that the system is equalising the arrangement, they want to whinge,” he said.

Mr Gutwein said there was “strong support” on a federal level.

“In terms of my federal colleagues they understand very clearly what Tasmania’s position is in this – we don’t want to see any change,” he said. 

"They seem to be firmly onside that they want to protect Tasmania’s interests.”

Mr Gutwein slammed Labor Leader Bill Shorten’s weekend announcement a Labor government would provide more than $1 billion for infrastructure in the west.

“If they do pump prime Western Australia with an additional $1.6 billion – that is just simply money that is not going to be available to Tasmania.”