STATE Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian told a Sutherland Shire business forum yesterday she believed the community would be prepared to consider "bold" tax reform, which could include raising and extending the goods and services tax (GST).
Ms Berejiklian was asked whether she supported changing the GST "to minimise business taxes and provide NSW generally with more funds for state expenditure".
She said she and Premier Mike Baird had stated that everything should be "on the table" for discussion as part of the federal government's taxation review.
Ms Berejiklian said Mr Baird and the state government had shown at the March election that major changes could be brought about as long as political leaders treated the community with respect and were open and honest.
Other state leaders had taken notice of what had occurred in NSW, she said.
Ms Berejiklian said the NSW government would be putting forward some "big ideas" when it sat down with the federal government and other states to discuss tax reform.
"The feeling I get is that everyone is at a place now where there is genuine momentum for reform and bringing people with us," she said.
Ms Berejiklian said Mr Baird and the government had played a big role in that "because he has proven to other political leaders around the country that if you are bold, have a view, trust the community, and tell the community what you are doing upfront, they will support you".
"I think that has given everyone a bit of courage," she said.
Ms Berejiklian thanked ShireBiz for organising the forum on taxation reform, which was held at Doltone House, Sylvania Waters, because the next few months would be "critical" in the state's future.
"It's absolutely essential and we are looking for a genuine and robust debate," she said.
"I think we should also not be afraid to talk about issues which we might think the public may not accept, or the public might feel they are not ready to accept, because we have a chance here to really make a difference in what the future will look like in terms of our financial relations."
Ms Berejiklian said the state's present revenue base was not sustainable, particularly after proposed federal government cuts to health.
"We need to really address the imbalance that occurs between the states providing services and the federal government having most of the revenue," she said.
"There is no way Canberra can decide what resources Sutherland Hospital needs, for example."
Assistant federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg was also asked about the GST, but said that the federal government would take such action only if it had the support of the opposition and the states.
"It's very hard to get that sort of tax reform unless you get bipartisanship," he said.
"We have no plans to increase the GST and, if there were to be any change, it would need to be bipartisan."
However, Mr Frydenberg said he wanted to make the point that at present "less than 50 per cent of our consumption is liable to the GST", and the present rate of 10 per cent was less than in many other developed countries.
SHIRE NOT FORGOTTEN
Mrs Berjiklian said the state government appreciated Sutherland Shire could provide more housing and jobs, but wanted ‘‘to take the community with us’’ on future development.
She was replying to a question about Sutherland not being given the status of a major centre in the state government’s planning strategy for Sydney.
She said the shire was ‘‘on our radar’’, the government appreciated its potential and was working under Planning Minister Rob Stokes to identify opportunities.