Page 1200 - Week 03 - Thursday, 31 March 2011

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Mr Hanson: A supplementary?

MR SPEAKER: Ms Hunter, and Mr Hanson next.

MS HUNTER: Treasurer, what key arguments will you be prosecuting to ensure that, as a small jurisdiction, we are not disadvantaged in this review?

MS GALLAGHER: I think the issues for the ACT are the fairness test that is implicit or inherent in horizontal or fiscal equalisation being maintained—that is, there are large resource-rich states that can generate income at a pace that jurisdictions like us cannot. We will not ever be able to do that. Because of that, we need to have those needs recognised and compensated for.

Indeed, I again heard Barry O’Farrell this morning saying that he understands that issue. Indeed, in WA, I think Colin Barnett’s main argument is that he wants a floor at 75 cents in the dollar. They are currently, I think, at 71 cents. I think those issues can be examined without necessarily the smaller states losing that fundamental agreement that has existed between jurisdictions that smaller states deserve extra assistance because of the constraints of their size. So that is one issue.

The other issue we need to be putting forward is around—this is difficult to achieve—more predictability and certainty around those payments. I think since the global financial crisis that has been a major issue for all jurisdictions when I attend treasurers meetings—that is, the fact that what was factored in to our forward estimates did not come true and that in every update since 2008 the expected GST growth has not continued in the way that was expected. That presents real challenges to the budget. We lost $30 million a month ago, and that is something that we just have to deal with in terms of this budget. So we need some certainty around that.

The other thing I would say is that it needs to be simplified. I think it has got so technical that we need to look at the simplification of the formula.

MR HANSON: A supplementary, Mr Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: Yes, Mr Hanson.

MR HANSON: Minister, will you personally be meeting with the review team to argue the case for the ACT?

MS GALLAGHER: Yes, I will. I would happily lead a delegation with Mr Smyth and Ms Hunter if that was what the Assembly thought would be a good way to approach this, because I certainly think that if we could take the politics out of who went and what everyone said and actually provide a unified front to show that this is what is important for the ACT, that would be something positive. I think it is something that the ACT community would expect us to do, and I offer that invitation now.

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