In a remarkably clumsy attempt to bully local communities, federal Treasurer Scott Morrison has threatened state and territory governments with financial penalties by cutting their GST distribution if they limit gas exploration.
Mr Morrison has announced that the Productivity Commission was including states’ attitudes to the exploitation of natural resources in its inquiry into the GST formula.
He said “I think it needs a fair-dinkum look. The Productivity Commission is looking at whether the way the states and territories operate is giving them a leave pass under the GST formula for not getting on and doing things. When you have states that get on and do things, should they be penalised by getting less GST?”
Victorians worked long and hard to achieve the permanent ban on fracking. 75 regional communities, mostly in Coalition voting communities, declared themselves gasfield free during the campaign. In polling carried out in August 2016 by Reachtel, 44.7% of Coalition voters supported the permanent ban. Support across the state was 55% and among undecided voters, it was 60.8%.
Mr Morrison’s threat to punish state governments with financial penalties by cutting their GST distribution is deeply out of touch with community sentiment. If he is successful in pushing this measure through, it will be rightly seen by the majority of Victorians as an assault on their right to make decisions about their state. Given the high level of support for the ban in the Coalition base it seems like a remarkably hamfisted and clumsy approach from a federal minister. It is hard to see how it won’t build support for the ban and generate resentment against the federal Coalition.
With a growing number of states and territory governments taking action to halt the spread of the invasive unconventional gas (UCG) industry, the federal government is becoming more and more shrill in it’s opposition to local democracy. On a range of issues, from the proposed Adani coal mine in Queensland to the UCG industry, it is increasingly difficult to see any daylight between the federal Coalition and the fossil fuel sector. By ramping up the campaign to force this unpopular industry onto unwilling communities, the Coalition will only further harden community support for the existing bans. This will, in turn, hurt the prospects of the Coalition politically. For a government that continues to struggle in the polls, this type of Own Goal is hard to understand.
A story outlining Mr Morrison’s announcement is available on The Guardian website.
Let him know you don't like bullies
You may want to call out the Minister on social media – tag him on facebook or send a tweet. Remind him that democracy matters and bullying never leads to good policy outcomes.
On twitter: @ScottMorrisonMP
VIC Premier Daniel Andrews has written a scathing response to Mr Morrison on facebook. Please Like and Share his post. Or thank him via Twitter: eg
Make a Submission to the Productivity Commission
If you don't like this attempt at bullying, please send a quick submission to the Productivity Commission (you will need to do this by close of business on June 30).