Lindsay MP David Bradbury says claims by the State Government that they were forced to make $1.7 billion in cuts to education funding due to diminishing GST revenue from the Federal Government is a “furphy”.
The NSW Government was fiercely criticised after announcing over a fortnight ago that serious funding cuts would be necessary to bring the education budget under control.
“The Federal Government incurred a significant decline in GST revenue. NSW [has] received $5.2 billion less in GST revenue, which is a significantly difficult position for the [State] Government,” said State MP for Penrith, Stuart Ayres.
Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli, also said: “I made it very clear that a large part of why we have had to make these tough decisions about the education budget is the $5.2 billion reduction in GST revenues flowing to NSW”.
But according to Mr Bradbury, the State Government is deflecting bad publicity on a “bad decision”.
“There has been no ‘cut’ to New South Wales’ GST revenue – in fact, GST payments from the Commonwealth will increase by 19.5 per cent – or $2.8 billion over the next four years,” he said.
Further, Mr Bradbury argued, the Commonwealth Government is not even responsible for what share of GST revenue the NSW Government receives.
“GST revenues are distributed among the States according to recommendations from the Commonwealth Grants Commission, an independent body of the Commonwealth Government,” he said.
“I suspect that the State Liberals are using this GST ‘furphy’ to push for an increase to GST – when the Liberals first brought the tax in they wanted it to apply to education, health and fresh foods.
“Now, it appears as though they are banking on the election of Tony Abbott so that they can finish the job.”
In his defence, Mr Ayres stated: “The amount of GST revenue that NSW was forecast to receive fell by $5.2 billion from last year’s Budget to this year’s Budget. This fall is unprecedented”.