Premier’s money talk may cost Abbott dear



Shifting the blame … Barry O'Farrell. Photo: Kitty Hill

BARRY O'FARRELL is taking every opportunity to remind us NSW is in a terrible financial state.

He was at it again at the weekend, warning we are losing billions of dollars in GST each year, which has blown a $5.2 billion hole in the NSW budget.

The situation has become so desperate the Premier was moved to promote a solution usually regarded as political poison: an increase in the rate of the GST.

The comments are being described as ''manna from heaven'' for federal Labor, which has picked them up to launch a scare campaign against Tony Abbott.

This has prompted many to ask what on earth had motivated O'Farrell. The answer is most likely to be political self interest.

When O'Farrell talks about a collapse in GST revenue, he is referring to money that has been forecast to be paid to NSW across the budget forward estimates.

The June budget showed GST to NSW is expected to increase by an average 4.6 per cent between 2011-12 and 2015-16.

The problem is global economic turmoil has sucked the confidence out of the national economy, so GST is expected to grow at a much slower rate than previously forecast, throwing the budget out of whack. That's why the state government announced last week that $1.7 billion had to be cut from education over four years.

The announcement was bungled and prompted a furious backlash from schools.

One possible reason for O'Farrell raising the GST question now is that he is seeking to reinforce the reason the cuts are needed.

But there is also another motive: shifting the blame to the federal government.

The question is whether the potential damage to Abbott's election campaign is worth getting this message across. For a Premier desperate to defend himself against angry teachers and parents, the answer is yes.

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About Darin Sullivan (1980 Articles)
Former President of the Fire Brigade Employees’ Union (2009-2018) and a professional firefighter with more than 30 years experience. I live and work on the NSW South Coast, Australia. I am a strong advocate for firefighters and emergency service workers with an interest in mental health issues and caring for those around me. I am a former Director on the NSW Fire Brigades Death and Disability Super Fund and work with charities including ‘The Movember Foundation’. As a leader and activist I have long been active in the campaign for action on climate change. I am a Station Commander in the fire and rescue service in NSW and have 30 years experience fighting fires, both rural and urban. I am passionate about highlighting the impact climate change is having on fire preparedness and fire behaviour in Australia, and the risks associated with inaction on climate change. I am also a spokesperson for the Australian Climate Media Centre.
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