GST revenue assurance from PM, as budget forecasts smaller shares

The Hodgman government has been emboldened by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's assurance that it will be business as usual for GST revenues in the coming years.

GST dollars represent the single biggest source of revenue for Tasmania.

The Productivity Commission's report on how GST revenues are distributed to the states and territories has been handed to federal Treasurer Scott Morrison but has not yet been made public.

The report is believed to contain recommendations on how the GST system might be improved, which could adversely impact Tasmania's share of the GST pie.

Some political pundits have speculated that Tasmania could lose up to $1 billion over four years if the GST distribution model is changed.

Tasmania's GST share is expected to decrease 0.13 per cent over the forward estimates but the state is nonetheless forecast to receive more money year on year.

This is because it is being predicted the GST pie will get progressively bigger over the next four years.

On Thursday, Mr Turnbull noted that Tasmania’s share of GST revenue was different every year, just as it was for other states.

“My Treasurer [Mr] Morrison spoke with [Tasmanian Treasurer] Peter Gutwein last night about [the GST] and we'll be presenting the PC report later this month, together with our proposed way forward,” the Prime Minister said.

“Tasmania will be very happy with the proposal.

“Tasmania will not be worse off, will not be getting any less money, out of the project – you will not be going backwards in terms of the financial support you get.”

The state will receive $2.5 billion in GST revenue in 2018-19.

Mr Gutwein said if Tasmania was to lose money out of any potential changes to the GST distribution model, it would be well-equipped to endure the shock.

"We will not spend the surpluses forecast before we have received them - they are the Tasmanian people's insurance policy against adversity," he said in his budget speech in State Parliament on Thursday afternoon.

"There is always a risk that future revenues may not turn out to be as high as expected.

"The surpluses forecast in this budget, are modest in the context of total revenue, and they will stand us in good stead should we need to face unforeseen events."

Labor finance spokesman Scott Bacon said Mr Turnbull was giving “disingenuous guarantees around … GST”.

“Economist Saul Eslake himself has said that in three years time, we could be $367 million worse off in just one year if any change is made to the GST,” Mr Bacon said.

“[Mr] Gutwein’s failed to account for this in this budget.”