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State premiers demand emergency meeting with Abbott government over $80 billion health and education shortfall

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Heath Aston, James Massola

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Coalition popularity slumps

Polls reveal a dramatic slump in support for the government and Prime Minister following the budget. Nine news.

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State premiers are demanding an ''emergency'' meeting with Prime Minister Tony Abbott to discuss an immediate multibillion-dollar shortfall in health and education funding from Canberra and warned they will not be cornered into demanding a rise in the GST.

According to an exclusive Fairfax Nielsen poll of 1400 voters, just 30 per cent of voters support a rise in the GST, while 66 per cent oppose it. Those figures represent a rise in support for the tax since November 2012, when just 12 per cent of voters supported a rise and 86 per cent opposed it.

Backlash: (From left to right) Queensland Premier Campbell Newman, NSW Premier Mike Baird and Victoria Premier Denis Napthine deliver a press conference  in Sydney to discuss the federal budget and the cuts that will affect the states and territories.

Backlash: (From left to right) Queensland Premier Campbell Newman, NSW Premier Mike Baird and Victoria Premier Denis Napthine deliver a press conference in Sydney to discuss the federal budget and the cuts that will affect the states and territories. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer

The debate over the GST came as state leaders warned more than 1000 hospital beds nationally have a cloud over their funding future from July 1 as a result of the federal government's budget axe.

The premiers challenged Mr Abbott's assertion that federal funding cuts would not bite the states until years into the future. West Australian Premier Colin Barnett did not attend the meeting on Sunday.

NSW Premier Mike Baird and Victorian Premier Denis Napthine said their states would be $200 million worse off from the 2014-15 budget year beginning July 1.

Queensland Premier Campbell Newman said he had rung federal colleagues and ''given a few people an earful''.

''What I'd like is for men and women across Queensland to pick up the phone tomorrow morning, send an email, ring your local LNP member or senator, and let them know that you're concerned about this and ask them to have a really good look at what is going on in the budget,'' he said.

Treasurer Joe Hockey appeared to open the door to a rise in the GST if the states made the case for it, though any change to the consumption tax would be taken to an election. ''What we're saying is we have a tax white paper, a process for looking at tax, we promised the Australian people we would not introduce, increase or widen or broaden or change the GST in this term of government,'' he said.

Mr Newman said the government was passing $80 billion of problems to the states and accused Mr Abbott and Mr Hockey of trying to corner them. ''I have a belief and I think it is shared by the first ministers that the federal government want us to talk about tax increases. Sorry, we are not going there.''

On Monday, Mr Abbott repeated commentsd that the Commonwealth had ''no plans whatsoever to change the GST''.

''Let's see what comes out of the federation white paper process. I have no plans to change the GST, it's up to the states if they want to put that stuff on the table, I don't know if they will, it's really up to them,'' he told ABC radio.

Mr Baird said NSW had been left $2 billion out of pocket over the four-year forward estimates period. He said $80 billion in cuts to health and education nationally over the next decade ''cannot proceed''.

''The cuts that have been put forward by the federal government, we cannot absorb,'' he said. ''We can give no clearer message to Canberra than to say we cannot absorb these cuts.''

Mr Napthine said the government's use of the budget to impose sweeping changes to financial arrangements was not ''the mature and correct way to about it'' and that the proposed $7 Medicare co-payment for GP services would hit emergency departments.

''We need to sort out what is happening from 1 July, because my belief … is that Victoria … will lose about $200 million in funding as of 1 July, through national partnerships being discontinued, through the reduction in funding for concessions, and this will have a direct impact on Victoria,'' he said.

The premiers want a specially convened Council of Australian Governments meeting before July 1 and for a planned white paper on tax reform to be expedited.

A spokeswoman for Mr Abbott dampened hopes of a summit before July 1, saying the Prime Minister had regular meetings with premiers and chief ministers and COAG was due to meet later in the year. ''If there are matters to be raised, they can be raised via the usual channels,'' she said.

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18 comments

  • The budget is outrageous, however the LNP state premiers are still notably unscathing in their comments. They obviously speak with one eye on their pay-cheques.

    Commenter
    adam
    Location
    yarrawonga
    Date and time
    May 19, 2014, 7:05AM
    • they are all in it together,they are playacting their parts to please the public image of some democratic illusions now.Is all faked Watchg them playing school debating team in the House and look Its obvious they are experienced performersNothing else.

      Commenter
      XXX
      Date and time
      May 19, 2014, 11:19AM
    • Meanwhile the ALP are keeping a firm eye on their credit cards...

      Commenter
      Shaking Eagle
      Date and time
      May 19, 2014, 12:07PM
    • The LNP premiers are making a lot of noise but we should watch what they do rather than listen to what they say. I predict they will end up being offered a token concession and meekly accept it. The whole stunt was likely to have been arranged before any of them made a public statement.

      Commenter
      Peter Stanton
      Date and time
      May 19, 2014, 12:16PM
  • With the polls suggesting that the Labor/Green ‘political class’ would walk in at any election on the votes of the profusion of rent seekers and ‘leaners’ around the country even though the IMF is saying that our debt is growing faster than 17 other rich countries makes Lee Kuan Yew’s observation that Australia will become the White Trash of the Asia-Pacific region prophetic. The Premiers need to wake up to the fact that fiscal equalisation is not working it only encourages rent seeking by states like SA and Tasmania to demand taxpayer funding to prop up their moribund economies; best of states agree to lift GST and have it fully refunded and/or raise taxes to pay for schools, hospitals and disability care if that’s what state voters want. The constant bleat from the Premiers that it’s all Canberra’s fault is not an adult solution to resolving the nation’s taxing and spending requirements. Premier Wetherill has no solution to the problems in his state other than demand taxpayers in other states fund SA’s lifestyle. When and if the Premiers actually agree to take responsibility for the funding requirements of their states; it would focus their minds on the ways and means of making their state attractive for business investment and the resulting jobs; the competition between the states to develop the most efficient economy would also massively improve efficiency and productivity around the country and would likely reduce the overall tax burden on taxpayers.

    Commenter
    Phil
    Location
    NSW
    Date and time
    May 19, 2014, 7:33AM
    • Obviously you haven't been listening to RN this morning. Jay was just interviewed and spelt out the inequity of the Budget. Newman calling for the electorate to contact their LNP MPs and Senators. Aboat waffling on about political courage.
      Migration, 457sand other working visas, the elephants in the room.
      This mob have no idea, let's just wreck the joint and bugger the workers or the environment.

      Commenter
      A country gal
      Date and time
      May 19, 2014, 8:14AM
    • I suggest more people need to find out how our system works before they start making stupid statements about reversing federalism. It wasn't so long ago that every taxpayer had to submit two tax returns, and we had customs posts on state borders. For the last few decades we've been trying to harmonise legislation across the states, why would we be doing that ? Do you actually recognize the need for Australian standards - why we have them ?

      Commenter
      adam
      Location
      yarrawonga
      Date and time
      May 19, 2014, 9:22AM
    • Some debate as to who this quote can be attributed to:
      " A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship."

      Commenter
      Tony H
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      May 19, 2014, 2:24PM
  • Even Smokin Joe's Beagle Boys are aware this Smoke-n-Mirror charade by the Five Disciples, especially for those on the skids a`la Newman, has more to do with Freckle Preservation than any concern for perceived deception.

    Commenter
    Geronimo
    Location
    Yippee Yi Yo
    Date and time
    May 19, 2014, 7:36AM
    • Good acting all especially King Newman. He probably is scared that he wouldn't have enough fund to buy the next upcoming election, and his promise to give the pie to his mates might just somehow evaporated now.

      Commenter
      King Newman
      Location
      North Korea
      Date and time
      May 19, 2014, 8:24AM

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