The very first day the PM is back at work the states say yes to $150 million extra cash. So there’s the federation fixed? And end to the blame game?
South Australian Treasurer and Deputy Premier Kevin Foley certainly sounded positive.
“I’ve been coming to treasurers’ conferences for six years. They were always forums for conflict and confrontation where Peter Costello was only interested in putting politics at No1 on the agenda,” he said.
Was he really going to tell Swanny to stick his money where the sun don’t shine?
“The important thing about today is that we worked cooperatively and this is how we’re going to do business from now on,” the Federal Treasurer told reporters.
States saying yes to cash is not a new development. It is not a major development. And it certainly is not structural reform. All we saw yesterday was spectacular spinning of top up funding. A band aid measure for health, if that is not too clumsy a metaphor.
Foley stated simply what is needed.
“The states and territories have argued for many years that because there are such rigid conditions relating to the spending of SPPs [Commonwealth Specific Purpose Payments] that there has been little room for innovation, insufficient focus on achieving results and there is a handbrake on flexibility to suit local conditions,” he said.
“In other words, states and territories are so constrained by federal requirements, there’s no room for structuring programs around getting better outcomes.
“I’m delighted we have a federal Labor government that is prepared to look at getting a better bang for its buck rather than hanging on to a bureaucratic notion that Canberra’s ‘one size fits all’ is best.”
So, let’s now see a program of action.
When it is delivered, then everyone can crow.