Economy and Infrastructure Committee

Ms ADDISON (Wendouree) (10:21): I am very pleased to again speak on the Legislative Assembly Economy and Infrastructure Committee report on the inquiry into commonwealth support for Victoria. We considered various issues associated with the inadequacy of commonwealth support for Victoria, including but not limited to Victoria’s share of federal GST funding and the expiration of the no-worse-off GST guarantee.

I know previously, Acting Speaker Connolly, you have been a member of the committee and you know what a great committee it is. Both sides of the chamber worked very effectively, and it was terrific to work with our chair, the member for Lara; our deputy chair, the member for Narracan; the member for Euroa; the member for Ferntree Gully; the member for Northcote; and the member for Geelong—all members who are proud Victorians who recognise we are being ripped off by these changes that were put in place by the federal coalition government to suck up to Western Australians to get their votes at an election.

That is what this GST reform was about. It was about trying to win over WA votes so they could win them in a federal election. Well, I am very happy to say that the people of Western Australia will not be bought. They were not bought on Saturday night even though they are going to get billions and billions of dollars—

Ms McLeish: On a point of order, Acting Speaker, I am a bit confused about which committee report the member is referring to.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Ms Connolly): The member is referring to the inquiry into commonwealth support for Victoria. There is no point of order.

Ms ADDISON: Thank you. I will continue talking about how the commonwealth is ripping off Victoria with the expiration of the no-worse-off guarantee. What we know is that from our inquiry there were 10 findings and seven recommendations, and the evidence that was received by the committee shows that the new GST distribution arrangements pose a significant risk to Victoria’s finances if the no-worse-off guarantee expires and the arrangements remain unchanged. These GST reforms need to be reversed, and it is in every Victorian’s interest.

Previously I have raised concern that the loss of revenue will be significant, with the flow-on for future Victorian governments to cut public servants, impose new taxes and incur more debt. What this loss of funding could mean is funding for 9000 teachers gone, 9200 police gone and more than 10 000 nurses gone—all because the commonwealth government wanted to suck up to Western Australia.

What we have done with our findings is we have looked at a number of issues about how the GST distribution reforms harm our state as well as how the commonwealth could support Victoria better, and we came up with a number of recommendations about how the commonwealth could be supporting us better. I really want to focus on the recommendations of our committee, of which there were seven. Recommendation 1 says that the Victorian government should:

… work with other adversely affected states and territories—

and, let me say, that is every state and territory except WA—

to advocate that the Australian Government revert to the former equalisation arrangements for GST revenue distribution.

I think what we want to do is we want go back to what we used to have. Recommendation 2:

That the Victorian Government work with other adversely affected states and territories to advocate that the … no-worse-off guarantee beyond 2026–27 until the inequity created by the new equalisation … is addressed.

This is really important. Recommendation 3 also says that we work with all the other states and territories adversely affected:

… to advocate that the legislated Productivity Commission review, or another independent review, of the new equalisation arrangements be conducted as soon as possible with input from the states on the review’s terms of reference.

I know that many, many Victorians have a lot of ideas about how a commonwealth government could better support Victoria, and our committee, after hearing evidence from experts—economic experts across the country—came up with a number of recommendations about how the federal government could support Victoria. Recommendation 4 was that the Victorian government should:

… drive collaboration between itself, the Australian Government, Infrastructure Victoria and Infrastructure Australia to develop common priorities for infrastructure investment in Victoria based on evidence indicating which projects will deliver the highest net … benefits.

This is a good recommendation for Victoria and all Victorians.

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