PM must step up and restart reform agenda

Shadow Minister for COAG, Senator Marise Payne, has called on the Gillard Government to kick-start the stalled COAG reform agenda at the August meeting, saying stakeholders are rightly worried about Labor’s dismal reform record and the impending carbon tax.

Senator Payne’s call follows the rescheduling of the next meeting of COAG to August 18 and 19 in Canberra.

“This is a great opportunity for the Prime Minister to step up and explain how the government will get important national reforms back on track and how the carbon tax will affect the states and territories as part of the reform process,” Senator Payne said.

“Most state and territory governments own their electricity generators so Julia Gillard needs to explain to them exactly what costs will be imposed on providers and why there is no compensation for the states under the carbon tax arrangements.

Senator Payne said the Government must also offer assurance to stakeholders in areas like health, housing, Indigenous reform and disabilities, that the Government has a plan to get promised reforms back on track.

“Recent performance reports show Labor is still failing to live up to its promise to fix the hospital system, with elective surgery waiting times rising nationally while ‘financial barriers’ – which are sure to get worse under the carbon tax - caused one million Australians to put off seeing a GP,” Senator Payne said.

“It is potentially worse in the affordable housing and disabilities national partnerships because there isn’t even enough data to provide comprehensive performance reports.

“The carbon tax will have a negative effect on all of these reforms. It will drive up costs for hospitals that use energy-intensive medical equipment like MRI machines and increase the cost of building new housing that is needed to solve the housing shortage.

“The PM must explain to the states and territories and stakeholders why they should have any confidence in its ability to implement reforms, particularly when no-one will be spared the costs of its carbon tax.”