Baird’s right to face up to harsh truths
IT IS widely accepted in this country that Australia is increasingly living beyond its means.
Equally, it is understood the problem will continue to get worse as our population ages.
By 2030, it is estimated there will be an annual $ 45 billion shortfall in state and territory budgets, mostly in health funding.
And yet, despite this awareness, there is a disturbing unwillingness to do anything about it.
It is a sad reflection on the state of political and economic debate in this country that a proposal by NSW Premier Mike Baird to lift the GST was immediately shouted down yesterday.
But what Mr Baird says has merit — the status quo is unsustainable.
Australia risks “tumbling over a fiscal cliff” unless the widening shortfall in funding for health and services can be found.
He is pushing for the GST, which has not been touched since it was introduced 15 years ago, to be lifted to 15 per cent.
Whether or not 15 per cent is the appropriate level, lifting the GST should at least be given proper consideration at this week’s state and federal leaders’ retreat.
According to Mr Baird, compensation could easily be paid to limit the impact of a higher GST rate on struggling low- income families.
Australia only has to look to the unfolding financial crisis in Greece to see the dangers of doing nothing.
Unfortunately, though, the nation has become paralysed by partisan politics, with Labor and the Greens unprepared to countenance the idea.
As Mr Baird said: “We have a chance to take this nation forward this week. Let’s set our sights on that, rather than on the usual point scoring. This is what the people who elected us deserve.”