The Week in Politics
State and territory Treasurers met with Josh Frydenberg in Melbourne on Wednesday to discuss GST reform and the Commonwealth’s proposal to put an additional $9 billion into state coffers over the next ten years. The amount will be indexed so it will keep up with inflation and there will also be a special supplement for Western Australia so that its subventions do not fall below a floor of 75% of the average amount paid to the other states.
Modelling conducted by the Productivity Commission shows that, under the government’s proposal, no state will be worse off over the next ten years however the Victorian Treasury managed to come up with scenarios that showed that in some circumstances some states could be worse off. As a consequence, the states ganged up and demanded that the prospective legislation should include a provision that no state should ever be worse off.
Mr Frydenberg has rejected this idea and insisted that the legislation will be presented to Parliament in the next sitting week. If this happens Labor has promised to move amendments, consistent with the states’ demands, in the Senate. These are likely to be supported by the crossbench but rejected by the government in the Reps whereupon Labor will wave the legislation through.
On Thursday Labor attempted to wrest the political agenda back from the government by announcing a $9 billion programme for 15 hours a week of pre-school education for three-year-olds. The announcement was made in conjunction with the Victorian government with Premier Daniel Andrews announcing a $5 billion funding arrangement to build new pre-school centres. The announcement led to some argy-bargy with Prime Minister Scott Morrison saying that Labor had forgotten it needed to cover both three and four-year-olds. Bill Shorten responded by saying that it was a disgrace that the government was going to end funding for four-year-old pre-schoolers after just one more year. He said that Labor would fund pre-school education by taxing the wealthy.