Laurie Oakes talks about the Howard Government’s sudden fixation with centralised Whitlamism in his Bulletincolumn this week and he makes a very valid point about the GST.

The Howard Government has blatantly distorted the figures by refusing to include GST revenue in its tax take – thereby rejecting claims they are the biggest spending government in history.

People like former Treasury Secretary and National Party senator John Stone have quite rightly blasted this tactic but the Costello defence has always been that the money goes straight to the states so it should be included in their figures.

However, if the Federal Government is suddenly going to start dictating to the states how they spend this $35 billion, it will make the ABS fiddle even harder to justify.

How do you claim a tax is not yours when you do actually collect and then start dictating how it will be spent?