Clive Palmer isn’t optimistic there will be a mature debate on federation.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has laid out a timetable for the government’s federation review, with recommendations expected in the run-up to the 2016 federal election.
He’s called for a mature debate on the review, which will also look at the future of the GST.
But Mr Palmer, the billionaire crossbench MP, doesn’t think the prime minister will get his wish.
“Certainly Tony Abbott isn’t capable of mature debate,” he told ABC radio on Tuesday.
“I don’t know any politicians that are capable of mature debate.
“When I got to parliament I looked down one side and said these blokes know nothing, I looked down the other side and thought these blokes know nothing.
“I looked at the public service and thought they know absolutely nothing.”
Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen said before the last election Mr Abbott stated on 33 occasions there would be no changes to the GST.
“Mr Whyalla Wipeout, Mr $100 Lamb Roasts, now wants to have a sensible discussion with the Australian people about economic reform,” he told reporters.
“He should begin by admitting that he lied.”
Labor would be participating in the economic reform debate far more constructively in opposition than Mr Abbott ever did, Mr Bowen said.
“More front than Myer”
Australian Greens deputy leader Adam Bandt was incredulous at Mr Abbott’s call for maturity given his behaviour during carbon pricing and mining tax debates.
“Tony Abbott’s got more front than Myer in calling for a mature debate,” Mr Bandt said.
Treasurer Joe Hockey says Australia must be more efficient and the biggest challenge for states is the massive growth in the costs of running their hospitals.
“They have to find the money for that. We say we are prepared to help them down that path,” he said.
Pressed on whether this will include changes to the GST, Mr Hockey said it could involve a range of things.
“We’ve never said for political reasons we’re excluding this or excluding that because we know that we have to earn prosperity as a nation. Yes, difficult decisions will be made,” he said.
Asked whether he is able to carry such a tough debate given the criticism he attracted over this budget sales job, the treasurer said: “It’s not about Joe Hockey or anyone else.
“It’s a debate for the nation. Everyone is the beneficiary and everyone bears the cost of a failure to have a proper, mature debate about our future as a nation.”
Former Labor treasurer Wayne Swan said a GST increase would hit low income earners hardest and further entrench inequality.
“Increasing the GST: that’s what tax reform means to the Liberal Party,” he told reporters.