With the federal government's mini-budget due within days, it is increasingly clear that Joe Hockey is going to have to find new savings to make up for a big increase in the deficit. He's already hit the states hard this year with budget cuts - will he do it again?
HOW MUCH MORE WILL HOCKEY HOOK IN FROM THE STATES?
Joe Hockey must set the states straight on whether he plans to yank more funding from their books to fill the growing hole in his upcoming mini-budget.
Several of the biggest states – including New South Wales and Queensland – have their own budget updates due before the end of the year.
Back in May, the Treasurer ripped $80 billion in health and education funding from the states with absolutely no warning.
This across-the-board cutback blew a huge hole in their finances, in some cases forcing the states back to the drawing board only weeks after they had handed down their own budgets.
The Treasurer is urgently casting about for new savings for replace his unfair GP tax and higher education changes, all of which are rightly being blocked by the Parliament.
Even deeper cuts to state funding may therefore be in the offing, in line with advice from the Government’s handpicked Commission of Audit.
The audit’s final report recommended dramatically scaling back federal support to the states, particularly in critical areas of service delivery like health and education.
It is bad enough that Joe Hockey blew a hole in the states’ budgets without warning once this year; twice would be beyond the pale.
The Treasurer must either come clean now on further cuts to the states or rule it out altogether.
The one thing he must not do is shirt-front the state Treasurers just to save his own Budget, like Tony Abbott did with Victoria’s former state government.
MONDAY, 8 DECEMBER 2014
MEDIA CONTACT: JENNIFER RAYNER 0428 214 856