Today, I met with State and Territory Treasurers in Cairns ahead of the G20 meetings to discuss how we can drive greater growth and prosperity across the country.
My colleagues and I were joined by the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde.
This was a unique opportunity for all Treasurers to hear directly from Madame Lagarde about developments in the global economy and financial markets, and the imperative for political leaders to work collaboratively to boost growth and create jobs.
With Government budgets under pressure around the world, we must take further steps – globally and locally – to rein in public finances, reform our economies and support the conditions that inspire the private sector to invest, expand and hire.
The Abbott Government is leading the way with measures like the Asset Recycling Initiative.
The $5 billion commitment from the Commonwealth will deliver over $38 billion of new, productive infrastructure in collaboration with the States and the private sector.
Today, the Commonwealth welcomed the strong commitment and concrete steps that many States have announced to take advantage of this Initiative. The Commonwealth looks forward to formalising bilateral agreements with some States soon.
This initiative is a central element of the Government’s $11.6 billion Infrastructure Growth Package in the Budget to create jobs, reduce congestion and get real activity going across Australia.
The Commonwealth’s infrastructure investments, along with critical investments being made by State Governments and the private sector, will catalyse additional infrastructure investment across Australia in excess of $125 billion.
My colleagues and I agree on how important these investments will be over coming years as the Australian economy transitions away from mining investment-led growth.
State Treasurers will also join me this afternoon for an Infrastructure Investment Panel session on ways to mainstream infrastructure as an asset class and facilitate greater investment in infrastructure. Treasurers will join G20 Finance Ministers and representatives from leading global investors and the B20 for the session.
Today, I also took the opportunity to discuss progress with the Commonwealth’s Federation and Taxation White Paper processes. The States will play a key role as all governments consider appropriate roles and responsibilities within the Federation and the taxation arrangements that will allow them to fund the services the public will demand in the future. Treasurers will continue to discuss these important issues throughout development of the Government’s White Papers during 2015.
At our last meeting in March, the Commonwealth agreed to a request from the States collectively to further explore options around lowering the value at which GST is applied to the importation of goods into Australia. Currently the threshold is $1,000. States indicated today that they had not agreed a preferred workable approach on this issue. The States may choose to raise this as part of the Tax White Paper process.