There was a charming exchange in the Parliament today.
TASMANIA is a “leach on the teat” of the Australian economy, a West Australian Liberal MP has claimed.
Don Randall’s charge, against a state where the Liberals hold no Lower House seats, came during debate on health and hospitals funding today.
The Opposition wants to defer, and Western Australia has rejected, the Government’s proposal to retain some of the state and territories’ GST to fund its health reforms.
Mr Randall’s outburst came after Tasmanian Labor MP Sid Sidebottom said the Opposition was only about obstruction, deferral and delay and its lead speaker, Treasury spokesman Joe Hockey, talked nothing but waffle.
Mr Sidebottom also spoke glowingly of how Tasmania had benefited from federal health reforms.
Mr Randall, the next speaker, retorted that Tasmania was “a leach on the teat” of the Australian economy, and especially minerals-rich Western Australia.
He said he was sick and tired of “mendicant states” like Tasmania.
Mr Randall said Western Australia might be out of sight and out of mind so far as the rest of Australia was concerned, but it contributed a massive and disproportionate amount to Commonwealth revenue.
Ouch. Them’s fighting words. But more or less true. The Tasmanian economy is facing serious challenges but, with some honourable exceptions, policy elites in that State have been in denial for a long time. When I last looked at it Tasmanian own state tax revenue was less than 40 percent. Tasmanians, on average, receive more in welfare than they pay in taxation (source).
In other words, we on the mainland are not just paying for their health, education, and what-not, very often we’re paying for the food on their tables and the clothes on their backs.
Name calling isn’t going to change that situation anytime soon, but some radical thinking is required. This is just one example. Here is a link to part of some work Julie Novak and I did for the TCCI a couple of years ago.