Radio Interview - ABC - Leon Compton

SUBJECTS: COAG, GST distribution, Tasmanian Liberals failure to stand up for education funding, Malcolm Turnbull’s cuts to schools.

LEON COMPTON: Good morning Senator Helen Polley you wanted to comment on the point that it takes all states signatures if there’s going to be any change in the GST.

SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER TO THE LEADER (TASMANIA), SENATOR HELEN POLLEY: What I really want to see is the Premier of Tasmania stand firm, speak up and be very persistent in ensuring that our interests are not left at the front door, and that the Premier is at that table arguing the need to retain the allocation of GST as it currently stands.

COMPTON: Have you seen any evidence that the Premier isn’t doing exactly that Senator?

POLLEY: Well to be honest with you Leon, how can we trust the Premier when his Education Minister and his Government has sold out Tasmanian schools and accepted the Turnbull Government’s allocation of funding for their so-called Gonski 2.0. We have been left $85 million dollars worse off. Every child in every school in this state has been left worse off. Do I trust the Premier to be strong enough? No I don’t. Just because you have the front page of the local newspaper does not mean that you have the courage of your conviction to stand strong against Malcolm Turnbull. Because after all, the Liberal Senate team are so weak they have no influence in Canberra over Malcolm Turnbull when he’s abandoned Tasmania.

COMPTON: To stand back from the education funding debate for a moment- the State Government have funded their part of it, notwithstanding the earlier cuts to education when they first came to power. What could anybody, what could a Labor Premier have done to get more out of the feds when it comes to Gonski funding this time around? This is something that David Gonski got back behind a podium and seemed to sign off on.

POLLEY: Other state liberal Premiers, the NSW Premier for instance has not accepted the allocation of funding and has been arguing very strongly against it. I’ve not seen any evidence that Minister Rockliff has done anything like that. All he’s said is ‘if we don’t accept this we’ll end up with nothing’. I think we’re in a much stronger position to be able to argue for further funding because it’s all too often that people point to Tasmania and try to suggest that our education system is not up to the national standard. Whatever it takes you have to go to that table and you really do have to negotiate strongly. I just feel that whether it’s at a state or federal level, since we retained three of the seats from the Liberals at the last federal election that the Liberals federally have forgotten about Tasmania.

COMPTON: Well it will be interesting to see what Tasmania specific information the Prime Minister has to offer today. He certainly declined the opportunity to come in here today to join us in the studio this morning to talk to you across Tasmania about how he’s seeing the world at the moment. Senator Helen Polley before we leave you this morning – it is received wisdom that if our Premier doesn’t want to sign off on a change to the GST it can’t happen. It needs the signature of all state Premiers if there’s to be any change. Is that your understanding?

POLLEY: Absolutely and there’s no way that Premier Hodgman should be signing away Tasmania’s future allocation of the GST.

COMPTON: Good to talk to you this morning.

POLLEY: Thank you Leon.