SUBJECTS: GST Distribution, Cuts to schools and hospitals, Budget and Turnbull Government’s incompetence.
MANIKA DADSON: Why are you here today, why are you concerned about the GST?
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER TO THE LEADER (TASMANIA), SENATOR HELEN POLLEY: I’m very concerned, this announcement may be seem like a deflection from the Budget but this is a serious threat to Tasmania and this is not just another thought bubble. There is no doubt in my mind that Tasmania will be the loser. If he wants to give more money to Western Australia then that is going to mean a loss to Tasmania. We know already that the Liberal Senate Team have no influence whatsoever in Canberra. We know that Will Hodgman has no influence in Canberra. We have seen an example of this lack of influence recently with the Centrelink debacle when we had Liberal’s crying wolf but doing nothing about it. We have seen the undermining of the Australian Maritime College. And once again the Liberal Senate Team and the state Liberal Government has said this shouldn’t happen but look what has occurred they have not been able to stop it. This will have a devastating effect on the Tasmanian economy. We have the oldest population in the country, we are leading the country with chronic illnesses, we have a hospital crisis where we cannot get enough specialists to come and work in Tasmania. If we have a cut in the GST distribution I see that as being so detrimental to Tasmania and I do not believe the Tasmanian community will stand for it.
DADSON: How much do you think Tasmania is set to lose if we do get a carve up cut?
POLLEY: It will be an enormous amount of money. We can’t put a figure on it because we do not know the new formula that will be applied. But what we do know is that this review won’t come down until next year which will be after the state election. We know that this Coalition Government is full of backflips and we know that Malcolm Turnbull stands for nothing, he has been such a disappointment. Labor and the community will come together to fight any change to the methodology in redistributing GST funding.
DADSON: What will you do to fight this?
POLLEY: We will fight it in the Senate and the House of Representatives. Because what this means, not on to Tasmania but other smaller states. We are a federation. You can’t have a captains call on issues like this or a captains pick that affects so many people. We will stand up as I know my state Labor colleagues will do the same thing and we will fight this every step of the day because Tasmania cannot afford to lose any money out of our economy.
DADSON: The Hodgman Government has come out and said they are going to fight any changes. What do you think of that?
POLLEY: We know that Will Hodgman is the good news Premier. That is the only time you see him out in front of a camera. When there is something to announce which he has been doing as a drip feed leading into the state election. But we know that when it comes to the AMC, where are they? They have failed to stand up for that against the Commonwealth because funding is going to South Australia for a competing technical college. Where was the Premier over the Centrelink debacle? We had Senate Committee hearings here last week and it was reinforced that our education system is not working the way it should. We need more funding into education, not less funding. We need more funding into our health system, not less. I don’t have any confidence in Will Hodgman being able to stand up to Malcolm Turnbull.
DADSON: You say you’re going to fight this in the Senate and the House of Representatives. Is there any other way people can fight this?
POLLEY: It will be a public campaign. There is no way Tasmanian’s are going to stand by in silence while the Coalition attacks Tasmania’s interests, just like they have been attacked over penalty rates. Tasmanian’s have stood with us against cuts to penalty rates and they will do the same on the GST. I believe this will become a very public debate. And I believe there will be lots of pressure put on the Liberal Senate Team in this state and the Hodgman Government.
DADSON: So will this be a public campaign, union campaign, Labor campaign?
POLLEY: This will very much be a public campaign because we know how important our fair share of the GST is. Every day we see ambulances ramped at the Launceston General Hospital. We know we can’t get the specialists we need. There are some tough decisions being made that is affecting the community here in Tasmania. We have a Legislative Council election coming up this Saturday. I believe that result will send a very strong message to Mr Hodgman that he needs to stop and listen to Tasmanians and stand up to Malcolm Turnbull once and for all.
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