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Audit a distraction, says Weatherill


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South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill has likened the commission of audit report to the distraction of a magician’s wand.

Arriving at Parliament House in Canberra ahead of the Council of Australian Government (COAG) meeting today, Weatherill flagged he’ll be seeking assurances from the prime minister about some of the report’s controversial recommendations.

“It looks like a magician’s wand, it’s over here to distract the eye, while the real work goes (on) over here in the budget to get about the cutting,” the Labor premier told reporters.

He slammed the idea of increasing competition between states at the expense of cooperation.

“This is meant to be one nation not a series of competitive units,” he said.

Asked if the goods and services tax should be allocated on a per capita basis, Weatherill said his state would stand to lose $1 billion if that went ahead.

Queensland Premier Campbell Newman supported reassessing how the federation operated.

“It is time to look at who does what, what the responsibilities are, end waste and inefficiencies,” he told ABC radio.

He said the blame game between states and the Commonwealth frustrated voters.

Newman embraced the commission of audit’s recommendations that states take full responsibility for running primary and secondary schools and public hospitals.

“Every state or territory would have to sink or swim on the basis of decisions they made,” he said.

NSW Premier Mike Baird supports the recommendation for the states to be allowed to raise funds through an income tax surcharge.

“A sustainable federation means you must align revenues and expenditures across the various governments,” he told reporters in Canberra.

He also wants to reduce the duplication of services between the state and federal arenas.

The commission of audit has also recommended delaying the roll-out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Baird said his state had an NDIS deal in place and expected it to be met.

“We have no intention to renegotiate the NDIS; it’s an important agreement,” he said.

WA Premier Colin Barnett described the report as bold.

He agreed with the recommendations to give states more power in education and health.

“I think the principle of trying to have clear delineation between responsibility and the delivery of services is sound,” he said.

“To simplify the funding arrangements makes a lot of sense.”

Barnett said the proposal to delay the full roll-out of the NDIS had merit.

“It may be rolled out a little bit more slowly, that may not be a bad thing,” he said.

“It may mean that what we end up with at the end of the day provides better services to people with a disability.”

Tasmanian Liberal Premier Will Hodgman wanted working with the federal government on cutting red and green tape.

“But I will fight every step of the way, and will oppose every step of the way, any change to the method for distributing the GST,” he told reporters.

“I will certainly not support anything that will disadvantage Tasmania.”

Northern Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles said is focusing on infrastructure and federal-state relations.

“What I would like to see is the territories and states have a greater and clearer level of responsibility around health, housing and education, where we (the states) act as a jurisdiction who has complete responsibility for those portfolio areas,” he said.

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