Queensland Premier Campbell Newman is seeking a emergency meeting over the federal budget with his fellow state premiers, saying the states were not warned of plans to cut $80 billion in hospital and education funding, leaving the states to pick up the tab.
The move is set to reignite the debate over the GST, a key source of revenue for the states.
Queensland is facing its own budget deficit troubles and has been polling voters on priorities and where the axe should fall, but the federal plans appear to have sideswiped a furious Mr Newman over what he labelled “unacceptable cuts”.
He wants an emergency COAG (Council of Australian Governments) meeting because when they last met less than two weeks ago on May 2, the federal Treasurer gave no indication of his plans to the premiers.
Last night, just before the Budget, Mr Newman sacked his assistant health minister, Dr Chris Davis, for continued breaches of cabinet solidarity as the Queensland government fought to rein in its own health costs.
NSW Premier Mike Baird is similarly angry saying “I did not outsource our problems to Canberra, they should not outsource their problems to us.”
“We haven’t got the financial capacity to meet the challenge being provided by the Commonwealth and we need to address it,” Mr Baird told ABC radio.
“It’s a flick pass, it’s cost shifting.”
“Our message back to Canberra is: No, we are in this together – you cannot outsource your problems to the state, we have a huge array of challenges here, we are continuing to deal and look after the people of NSW, but we cannot have the cuts we have seen across the board, particularly in relation to health, and not have their support.”
The federal plan adds pressure to the NSW Budget, due on June 7.
Victorian Premier called for changes to the GST distribution saying that Victoria was “robbed and dubbed” and “a fairer GST distribution was required for his state”.
He did not believe that the GST rate needed to increase
But when it came to federal cuts in health and education Mr Napthine said “I would suggest to the PM and the federal treasurer that they have an immediate rethink.”
WA Premier Colin Barnett welcomed the infrastructure spending but was unhappy about the cut in the state’s GST revenue.
“I think it is an insult to the people of this state,” Mr Barnett said. “I’m disappointed about that. That’s still something that must be corrected.”
In South Australia, Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis said he would have to start budget planning all over again.
“What Joe Hockey is basically saying to South Australians is ‘You’re on your own. If you’ve lost your job at Holden you’re on your own, if you’re sick you’re on your own, if your kids are in school you’re on your own, but we’ll build you two new roads’. I have to say I think Mr Hockey has got his priorities horribly wrong.”
“No-one under any circumstances thought that they would remove the health funding guarantees,” he said.
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