Treasurers disgruntled as Swan hedges on keeping states in loop

Phillip Coorey -Apr 5, 2012

Money talks … Wayne Swan met with state treasurers in Canberra.

Money talks … Wayne Swan met with state treasurers in Canberra. Photo: Andrew Meares

THE Treasurer, Wayne Swan, has promised to consult the states on the establishment of a national disability insurance scheme and a revamp of the formula for redistributing the GST revenue after the state Treasurers left Canberra angry yesterday, describing a two-hour meeting with Mr Swan as a waste of their time.

The Treasurers had come to urge Mr Swan to ensure they were consulted as part of the process to establish the disability scheme, in which they have a financial stake, and to discuss concerns they have into a review of how GST money is distributed.

Mr Swan has recently received a draft report of the review by former Victorian premier John Brumby, former NSW premier Nick Greiner and South Australian businessman Bruce Carter.

He said after yesterday's meeting, during which they argued about when the states could see the draft review, that they would see it in due course.

''We've only just received it ourselves and I have made the commitment this morning that there will be plenty of time for us to have a subsequent meeting to talk not only about the draft report, but also to talk about the final report,'' he said.

The states also complained that they had received no assurance they would be kept in the loop on the formation of the NDIS.

The Productivity Commission has recommended a scheme similar to Medicare to provide for the disabled.

The scheme has bipartisan support and the support of the states but will cost the Commonwealth at least $6 billion extra a year by the time it would be fully operational by 2018.

The Commission has recommended the $4 billion the states receive each year in federal funding for disabilities be rolled into the new federal scheme.

The states said yesterday this was a sound idea in principle but they needed to be consulted along the way and not ambushed as they were when the government unveiled the mining tax, which had implications for state royalties.

The four Liberal treasurers, including NSW's Mike Baird, were especially unhappy.

Mr Baird said he was ''very disappointed'' the meeting did little but set up another meeting, either in September or October.

''What the states have simply asked is to participate in the process on a financial sense,'' Mr Baird said of the disability scheme.

''We did not get a commitment from the federal Treasurer today in terms of the states being involved before a financial framework is released and that is of concern.''

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